Word from the Center Digest: Good Friday, April 19, 2019

A word from the Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz on Good Friday:

For Christians around the world, it’s Good Friday today. Yes, that’s right. The day that Jesus the Messiah died on the cross is “Good” Friday to us. Why? Because that’s what ultimate victory looks like in the Bible.: When Jesus allows His perfect life and His innocent death to be exchanged, substituted for our sinful life . . . real, eternal life is possible again for us, for those who put their trust in God’s redemption through His Son. On Good Friday, Pontius Pilate, one of the power brokers of that day, ironically and ignorantly snarled at Jesus, “Don’t you know that your life is in my hands?” Well, no, it wasn’t. It was in Jesus’ own hands to give up freely just for you and me. Good Friday is what being “set free” from sin and guilt is all about.

Today, in the shadow of the cross where the Son of God gives up His life so that we might live, we repent of our sin and shame, our guilt and greed, pleading to God for His mercy. We do that for ourselves and for our nation too. We watch this Jesus, the God-man like no other, march to and through the cross so that sin, death, and even the devil himself might be vanquished for all time. As we engage our culture, as we serve our nation, we are always mindful of the reason that we do all that we do. We do it so that people might know of this Jesus who has done all things well for all.

It’s Good Friday. It is finished. The victory is won. Easter joy is mere days away. But such joy is always anchored in Good Friday’s good work in Christ for you!

Every day, we proclaim to a broken world that God is good, that He does all things well. We proclaim that no matter what is going on at this very moment, He is at work to preserve and to save. Today we see the uniqueness of that salvation for each and every one of us. A blessed, “Good” Friday to you all.

  • Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, executive director, Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty  

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Major Issues in Congress

by Alec Fornwalt and Timothy S. Goeglein

We are in the midst of the 116th Congress, and there are three major issue areas just ahead that men and women of faith should have on their radar scopes.  All three portend a hot summer on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The first issue is a bill called The Equality Act, which is defined by its sexual orientation and sexual identity language.  The second issue is comprised of the pending nominations and confirmations of more of President Trump’s federal judges.  And the third area is a bevy of vitally important pro-life issues.

The goal of the Equality Act is to add so called “sexual orientation and gender issues” — otherwise known as SOGI protections — to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That Act was initially created to protect people from discrimination based on immutable or natural characteristics like race, gender and nationality. The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to that list of protections, which would have far-reaching effects on the lives of everyday Americans, even if they aren’t religious.

The potentially negative effects of this radical change in federal law are enormous.  For example, in New Jersey and California, hospitals have already been sued for declining to preform “sex reassignment” procedures. In Georgia, a male student who identified as a female sexually assaulted a kindergarten girl in the school bathroom. In Ohio, a judge terminated the custody of biological parents for objecting to putting their young daughter on hormone blockers.

These are real-life cases that would only exponentially increase it SOGI laws are implemented and imposed on a national or federal basis.  The Equality Act may come up for a vote in June, and it is a major threat to our religious liberty and right of conscience.

The second issue, approving federal judges who believe the words of the Constitution have a fixed meaning and do not change over time, may not seem like a faith-based issue per se, but federal judges are constantly making decisions that affect and impact Americans of faith, often in major ways. The Supreme Court is the most well-known example, and President Trump has already had two solid Supreme Court Justices approved by the Senate. It is possible that the infamous abortion case Roe v Wade, which has resulted in more than 60 million abortions since 1973, may be questioned and seriously reviewed in the next two terms.  Appellate and district judges would likely have a large role in whether such pro-life decisions come to the high court for review.

Even though judges are supposed to be impartial, certain judges prefer to block policies or make decisions based on their personal or political beliefs instead of what the Constitution says. Here are two examples:  A judge in Washington, D.C., overturned the federal ban on transgender troops in the military despite a decision by the Commander in Chief, and a Christian funeral home owner in Michigan who couldn’t in good conscience support a transgender employee was sued in a district court and lost. Cases like these illustrate why it’s important for the Senate to fill as many vacancies as possible with solid judges that will uphold the Constitution.

Finally, the right to life issue is as vital as ever in Washington and around our country.  The major new pro–life film “Unplanned” has further propelled the issue forward. Policies have been ordered in states like New York and Virginia that would allow abortions essentially until birth. Conservatives in the federal government are trying to turn back these policies, and their legal efforts may eventually land in federal court.  Senator Lindsey Graham recently introduced a bill that would halt all abortions after 20 weeks, which is when scientists have proven that babies feel pain. This explains why the United States is one of only seven countries that allow abortion after 20 weeks. This bill failed to pass but is gaining major momentum.   

Another pro-life bill is the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would guarantee the right to life to children that survive failed abortions. House Leadership is refusing to give this act a vote, but Representative Steve Scalise recently brought the bill up on a discharge petition, which is simply a way to force the House to vote on the bill if it can muster 218 representatives to sign it. The “Born Alive” petition broke the record for the amount of signers on its first day, and now has 198 signatures, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi is preventing not only a vote but also a debate.

As abortion policies get more extreme, it is important that Americans of faith continue to help educated people in their communities about the ramifications of where the pro-life debate is wending.

The Equality Act, the centrality and importance of federal judicial nomination, and a host of pro-life legislation are on the fast track in our nation’s capital during this Congress.  All will have a major impact on the way we live our lives in the public square.

Tim Goeglein is the vice president for External and Government Relations at Focus on the Family. Alec Fornwalt is an associate in Focus’ Washington office.

Be Informed

Why is the pro-life movement asking for a moral revolution? Dr. Anthony Esolen explains.  

Be Equipped

The state of Illinois is attempting to pass legislation allowing abortion up until birth. Lutherans are fighting to preserve the sanctity of life. Hear Pastor Roger Drinnon of Southern Illinois review the issue.

Be Encouraged

“The Holy Spirit reminded me that the Lord loves me . . . that Jesus is always with me, even when I was on the hard, cold abortion table.” – Jean Amundson (Read more about Jean’s story of abortion, forgiveness and hope at https://eyesoflife.org/jean/

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