By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Founder FaithInspires.Org
This afternoon President Trump leveraged off the National Day of Prayer to sign a much anticipated Executive Order expanding and expressing support for religious freedom. Many Christian leaders welcomed his action as signaling a welcome change in the Washington mindset, or at least a step in the right direction.
Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel had this reaction “We commend President Trump for sending a message to Congress and the rest of America that religious freedom must be protected. This is an appropriate way to commemorate the National Day of Prayer as our President commits to protect and promote religious freedom,”
Meanwhile Carl Anderson CEO of the Knights of Columbus had this to say, “We applaud President Trump’s executive order on religious liberty. While there is still work to be done to restore the reverence for religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment, this order marks an important step in restoring those constitutional principles guaranteed to every American. Guided by their beliefs, people of faith contribute in important ways to every aspect of this country, and this order will begin to restore the principles upon which this country was based: that people of faith should be able to exercise that faith with the protection rather than the opposition of their government.”
A leding Hispanic Evangelical added, “This new executive order not only signals President Trump and Vice President Pence’s commitment to fighting for and representing the Evangelical community, but also the larger struggle for religious liberty. For years now, people of faith—especially Christians—have been essentially told that their faith has no place beyond their front door. A subversive oppression has taken a hold of our nation and sincerely held beliefs are subject to not only social ridicule but also legal retribution.” Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez President National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
Today’s executive order among other things provided relief from the so called Johnson Amendment. This provision enacted in the 1960’s greatly restricted endorsements of political candidates by non-profit groups including churches. This has been a very unpopular provision among evangelical Christians and others since. So rolling it back even if by a bit will meet with at least some pleasure among those groups.
But will it be enough. An earlier draft of the executive order would have provided a much wider range of protections. Especially for average Christians ( as opposed to clergy, churches and ministries.) who acted or refused to act out of religious conscience. From what I can gather it was Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump that convinced the president to leave these additional protections out of the EO. Over time I fear this will be seen as the loss of an opportunity to cement the president’s relationship with a core part of his winning coalition.
My personal opinion is that as time passes today’s order will be seen as doing very little to advance the wishes of evangelical Christians, and will have done much more to anger those on the left. The result will be to leave us father from common ground on some issues not closer. For someone who sees himself as a master negotiator, this move seems like more of a weak compromise than anything else. Evangelicals are growing tired of weak compromises and disappointments. Today’s executive order may cost the administration more than it gains.
RALEIGH, N.C., March 10, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — The Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc., the oldest state-wide Christian public-policy organization in the Tar Heel state, is endorsing Ted Cruz for President of the United States. The League has a 501c4 tax status and is allowed to declare support or opposition to a candidate for office.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director, released the following statement Thursday morning:
“We are witnessing possibly the most dangerous time in American history. It’s not that our great country hasn’t faced incredible challenges in the past, but today the enemies of our Republic strike at the heart of our national identity – the meaning of America. Such issues will determine the preservation of liberty for the generations to come.
“Although the Christian Action League concedes there are many pressing considerations in choosing a President, none are more important than marriage and family, restoring a culture of life, and preserving our first right – the right to practice one’s faith freely. No current candidate in the Democratic field demonstrates a proper commitment to any of these necessary supports for a healthy society. All the candidates in the GOP field have shown some commitment to these three, either with lip service or some demonstration of allegiance, but none has the long track record of their zealous defense and promotion as Senator Ted Cruz.
“Voters today are angry at their elected officials for showing little or no courage in standing up for their rights and representing their concerns. They rightly feel betrayed. They feel most politicians are willing to sell them out and leave them hanging. Therefore, many people, including evangelicals, seem to prefer an outsider. Ted Cruz, however, should not be counted among your run-of-the-mill, go along to get along, kind of elected official. Instead, it has been his undaunting commitment to fight for his constituents – to fight for principle over politics – that has made him an undesirable among established powers in Washington.
“Many years ago, John Ruskin contended that ‘[s]kill is the unified force of experience, intellect, and passion in their operation.’ Ted Cruz has extensive experience debating, crafting and pushing legislation, as well as defending in court the values dearest to evangelical Christians. What is more, he has done it with keen intelligence and fervor.
“Last, the issues tearing away at the moral fabric of our nation have largely, almost exclusively, been foisted upon us by run-away federal courts, most certainly the U.S. Supreme Court, which has abandoned the original intent of the U.S. Constitution in too many of their rulings. To sustain freedom, this form of tyranny must stop. Because the next President will likely fill the seat of recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia and other seats that may become available, it is imperative we have a President who is a strong constitutionalist. We believe Ted Cruz would best serve this need.
“Therefore, the Christian Action League urges its supporters and its vast network of churches and citizen evangelicals in North Carolina to vote for those eternal verities that should take precedence over all other concerns – those that go to the character of our nation. A country that remains compromised on marriage and family, the right to life and the right to live according to the dictates of their faith in public or private, is likely to perish from the earth.
“Every leader has clay feet, and none is without blemish. Nevertheless, evangelicals should choose for their leaders those who by their persons and promotion of policy reveal a consistent commitment to a strong Christian worldview.
“We believe Ted Cruz best fits this need and endorse his candidacy for President of the United States.”
Dr. Mark H. Creech
Dr. Creech added that he didn’t think the Christian Action League had ever endorsed a candidate for President before, at least not during his tenure as executive director. “Still, the Board felt there was entirely too much at stake in this election,” he said, – “matters that could affect the nation for many years to come – matters that required we break away from our tradition and provide some needed direction for evangelicals in the stat
By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Founder and Editor, FaithInspires.Org
We have covered many positive stories about the Catholic Church, and God willing we will publish many more. However more news broke yesterday about the Child Sex Abuse scandal yesterday which cannot go without comment. The latest comes from the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese in Pennsylvania. There yesterday it was announced that a grand jury investigation found that two bishops of the local diocese hid the abuse of hundreds of children, by over 50 priests and religious leaders over at least a 40 year period ! You can read the Full Story Here.
In announcing the grand jury’s findings Pennsylvania Attorney General stated “These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe, Just as troubling is the cover-up perpetrated by clergy leaders that allowed this abuse to continue for decades.” I agree totally with what she said. In my mind our first duty, always, when children are placed into our care as clergy is the protection of those children !
Also on Tuesday Cardinal George Pell, Vatican Treasurer testified before Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse. In his testimony the cardinal stated that he was lied to by senior church leaders, about why abusive priests were moved back in the 70’s.
Clergy sex abuse is by no means limited to the Catholic Church or to one or two locations. The Herman Law firm which operates nationally from offices in New York, and Florida specializes in such cases, and they are not alone. They have seen abuse cases in not only Catholic, but Baptist, Anglican, even Jewish congregations !
Sexual Abuse especially of children by our clergy cannot be tolerated. Those entrusted to us, both children and adults must be protected. Neither can church leaders be allowed to hide such crimes. Clergy found guilty of sexual abuse should be investigated by authorities outside the church. Secular law enforcement has a vital and important role in investigating such cases. Crimes against our children must be investigated with great vigor ! That role should be supported, not suppressed. Should a thorough and complete investigation find merit in the charges, the clergy member involved should be charged with an aggravated offense, with a stiffer penalty than what would normally be applied in such cases. Pedophiles have a particularly high rate of repeat offending. Which leaves us almost no room for giving people second chances. The safety of the children trusted to us, and our congregations must be our priority !
Those in church leadership who are found to have hidden such incidents should at a minimum be removed from their positions, and in most cases face criminal charges themselves.
We as clergy have a profound impact on those we lead, even more so with the young. Both God and our congregations place a level of trust in us that few ever receive. Those that violate that trust to become both adulterers, and predators have no place in the leadership of Christ’s church. Christ after all loved the little children. How can we say we serve him and do less ?