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.
Statement by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), Following President Trump’s Address to Congress
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — “The nation watched with anticipation tonight as President Donald J. Trump gave his first address to Congress. Americans are hoping for a change of direction, for real solutions to the many issues plaguing our country and for a better, stronger and more prosperous future. President Trump’s speech reflected that hope, and now we wait to see what can be accomplished by both the White House and Congress toward these commonly shared goals.
“For Latinos living in the United States, the issue of immigration reform is of obvious concern and is being carefully watched and monitored. Further, it was not only a part of President Trump’s speech but was evident by the guests invited on both sides of the aisle and by one of the individuals chosen to give the Democrat response. It is evident that immigration reform continues to be a divisive issue that needs to be addressed in a comprehensive way.
“Our hope is that Congress will make it their utmost priority to immediately pass comprehensive immigration reform. The legislative process is the best way to respect the people living within our borders and better protect the sanctity and security of our country’s founding ideals.
“While immigration reform is important, it is not paramount to the Latino community as evidenced by recent polling and through our daily conversations with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s (NHCLC) member churches. Tonight we heard the president address strengthening education, boosting the economy to create jobs and building a better America for ALL Americans. These are areas in which we have common ground with the president’s vision and in which we are hopeful that real progress can be made through his administration.
This speech set the stage, not only, for this session of Congress, but for the next four years. During this time, the NHCLC will continue to work with the administration to make progress on the priorities of Latino Evangelicals including the issues of life, religious liberty, education equality, immigration reform and racial unity.”
The NHCLC serves as a representative voice for the more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals assembled in over 40,000 U.S. churches and hundreds of thousands of additional congregations spread worldwide throughout the Spanish-speaking diaspora. Seeking to reconcile evangelist Billy Graham’s message of salvation with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march of prophetic activism, the NHCLC emphasizes “7 Directives” of Life, Family, Compassionate Evangelism, Stewardship, Justice, Education and Youth. For additional information, visit http://www.nhclc.org.
SOURCE National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — In “Be Light: Shining God’s Beauty, Truth, and Hope into a Darkened World” (WaterBrook, ISBN: 987-1-60142-816-5), Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, lead pastor of New Season and President/CEO of one of the world’s largest evangelical organizations, acknowledges that today’s world is troubled and in many ways dark. Yet, in these times when religious liberties are being attacked and there is great pressure for political correctness instead of biblical truths, the Church needs to rise up in all of life’s arenas and become “the bright city on a hill.”
“We cannot deny we live in dark times…sin, immorality, moral relativism, infanticide, racism, false prophets, watered-down preaching, religious extremism, terror, violence intolerance and disbelief,” said Rodriguez. “But, when light stands next to darkness, light always wins.”
In “Be Light,” readers will be inspired and given the blueprint to confront and overcome spiritual, emotional, relational, family and financial darkness and live as light. The book can be read as a 30-day journey, with each chapter portraying a spiritual analogy to light with real-life examples and testimonies, scripture and a reflection to lead the reader to action. The foreword to the book was written by Roma Downey, producer, celebrated actress and president and chief content officer at LightWorkers Media (a division of MGM Studios).
“Be Light” is a biblical mandate. The word “light” is mentioned more than 200 times in the Bible. Light is an important part of the Christian narrative beginning in Genesis, when God said, “Let there be light.” In this new book, Rodriguez offers clarity to this important Christian metaphor and how it relates to individuals of faith living in current times.
Rodriguez uses the laws of light – including reflection, refraction and the bending of light; destructive light and lightening; and celestial light – to challenge followers of Jesus to take up its responsibility to stand up and be something inherently different from society.
“Like a prism when light passes through it, we reveal the full color spectrum,” writes Rodriguez. “We are called to be the light of the world, but that does not mean that we, people of faith, are uniform, monochromatic or one dimensional. The light of God may appear to be single beam of white light, but when it passes through the prisms of His people, its full complexity and beauty are revealed.”
“Be Light” will release May 3, 2016 from WaterBrook, an imprint of Crown at Penguin Random House, LLC. The book has been endorsed by a number of leaders including: Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president, Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church, Robert Morrison, founding senior pastor at Gateway Church, and James Robison, founder and president of LIFE Outreach International.
“Sammy Rodriguez is a dynamic leader,” said Dr. Alton Garrison, assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God USA, “His influence impacts other leaders, both spiritually and politically. Yet his compassion touches the hurting, the marginalized, and the underrepresented. His message is compelling. He does not just articulate problems; he also gives solutions. His book, ‘Be Light,’ is a must-read if you are tired of the darkness. Share it with your friends and help turn on the light.”
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, which serves as a representative voice for the more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals assembled in over 40,000 U.S. churches and another 500,000 congregations spread throughout the Spanish-speaking diaspora. He has been named by CNN and Fox News as “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and Newsmax included him in the “Top 100 Christian Leaders in America.” For more information, visit http://pastorsam.com/.
First of all I want to offer our prayers and condolences to his Wife Maureen and his family, as well as to the members of the court and all who knew him. May God’s comfort and strength be with them as they travel through their grief. Justice Scalia was one of the great human treasures of late 20th and early 21st century America. He will be missed, but not as easily forgotten. May Almighty God grant civility and wisdom to those considering his replacement. In this and in all things may God let his will be known, and may this nation pray fervently to see it.-Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Founder and Editor FaithInspires.Org.
Here are what some others are saying tonight,
From Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council,
“I join the nation in mourning the passing of Justice Scalia, a man who had a deep love for our nation, the Constitution, and as the father of nine children, was passionate about the institutions of marriage and family.
“He leaves behind a distinguished legacy that will have a lasting impact. His deep commitment to the Constitution was unmatched, especially in an era when judges have legislated from the bench and twisted the nation’s charter document to justify their ideological agendas.
“Justice Scalia believed the Constitution had an objective meaning that could be understood and applied, and that as a nation we need to abide by it carefully for the sake of liberty, order, and justice.
“We offer our prayers and condolences to his family. He will be greatly missed.
“The Supreme Court has now become the centerpiece in this presidential election. There has not been an election-year nomination in generations and the Senate must not break that trend now. With the election only 269 days away, the people should decide what president should fill this seat,” concluded Perkins.
The Second Amendment Foundation released this statement,
“Antonin Scalia was a brilliant legal scholar who not only understood the Constitution, he brought clarity to possibly the most important issue of our time,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “I had the honor and privilege to have met Justice Scalia and found him to be a man of strong ethics and intellect, and great character.
“Justice Scalia was a fierce defender of the Constitution and he adhered to its original meanings,” he continued. “I found him to be a warm, charming and humorous man with great wit who deeply loved this country and had an unshakeable belief in the rule of law.”
Gottlieb acknowledged that there is already speculation about how this will affect the philosophical balance on the high court.
“It is important now that the Senate not act with haste to fill Scalia’s shoes,” he observed. “The Court must not be allowed to swing away from supporting Second Amendment rights, which is why we urge the Senate Judiciary to act judiciously, and not take up this important issue until a new president is in office. We cannot allow the important work of Antonin Scalia to be undone by a court thrown out of balance by the appointment of a successor who would be his philosophical opposite.
“For now,” Gottlieb concluded, “our condolences go to Justice Scalia’s family, his colleagues and the Supreme Court staff who have suffered a huge loss.”
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez who serves as President of the Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference reacted this way, “Justice Antonin Scalia stood as a champion of life, religious liberty and limited government. The son of Italian immigrants, his life journey speaks to the power embedded when one reconciles faith with education. His presence on the court represented a firewall against judicial activism. His life should serve as both a reminder and a clarion call for us to be both vigilant and committed in defending our God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest called news of the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia “a tragic loss for our country. Americans mourn the passing of a man with deep integrity and unparalleled intellectual force, who valued the Constitution over the whims of popular culture.”
She continued: “Known for his great wit and wisdom, Justice Scalia continually reminded us that the rule of law and protections enshrined in the Constitution are essential. His contribution to our country has been immeasurable. His respect for life in law, calling himself a ‘textualist,‘ allowed him to decide on the tough cases more easily: he once said to reporters, ‘Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion.'”
Yoest added, “His loss is tragic, and we hope that when it comes time for the Senate to vote on his replacement, that a worthy successor who can pick up his banner can be found after the election.”
Justice Antonin Scalia was a long-standing and consistent voice on the Court for allowing the American people, through the democratic process, to protect human beings from abortion or assisted suicide. He was one of the strongest critics on the Court of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, as unconstitutional and illegitimate. And he voted with the majority of the Court in 1997 against a constitutional right to assisted suicide. In both cases, he affirmed that the Constitution leaves these issues to the people to formulate public policies through their elected representatives.
Janet Mefferd who is a nationally syndicated Christian radio talk show host offered this to her Twitter followers,” How it feels to lose Scalia: There’s a hole in Hoover Dam, & the one guy with his finger in that hole just died. And breach is now certain.
Meanwhile on Facebook the Tea Party Favorite, and Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz sent the following to his supporters, “Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia. A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.
As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism. And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights. All liberty-loving Americans should be in mourning.
Justice Scalia’s three decades on the Court was one of President Reagan’s most consequential legacies. Our prayers are with his beloved wife Maureen, their nine children, and their precious grandchildren.”