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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says - Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says - Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says - Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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The Supreme Court’s much-awaited decision in the “wedding vendor” case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, was announced this morning. Ruling narrowly for Jack Phillips, owner of the bakery at issue, the Court focused squarely on the fact that the state of Colorado did not treat Phillips with “neutrality,” but rather “hostility,” due to the religious beliefs underlying his claims. Thus, the Court concluded, the state violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment—which prohibits the government from singling out, targeting, and discriminating against religion.The Court featured two primary bases for this determination. First, the “Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of [Phillips’] case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection” to creating a same-sex wedding cake. Comparing him to a slave owner and Holocaust perpetrator (a comparison which was never objected to or disavowed in all the time leading up to the Court’s ruling), the Commission clearly disparaged Phillips’ beliefs in two ways: by calling them “despicable, and also by characterizing [them] as merely rhetori­cal—something insubstantial and even insincere.” Moreover, the commissioners who ruled on his case “endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, implying that religious beliefs and persons are less than fully welcome in Colorado’s business community.” These “inappro­priate and dismissive comments” showed a “lack of due consideration for Phillips’ free exercise rights and the dilemma he faced.”Second, the fact that Colorado treated other bakers (who were asked to make a cake condemning same-sex marriage and declined because the message was “offensive”) differently constituted further evidence of the state’s animus against Phillips’ beliefs. “A principled rationale for the difference in treatment of these two instances cannot be based on the government’s own assessment of offensiveness. Just as ‘no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion,’ West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 U. S. 624, 642 (1943), it is not, as the Court has repeatedly held, the role of the State or its officials to prescribe what shall be offensive. See Matal v. Tam, 582 U. S. ___, ___–___ (2017) (opinion of ALITO, J.) (slip op., at 22–23). The Colorado court’s at­tempt to account for the difference in treatment elevates one view of what is offensive over another and itself sends a signal of official disapproval of Phillips’ religious beliefs.” It was on these two grounds that seven members of the Court concluded that the state of Colorado treated Jack Phillips harshly because of his religious beliefs.Harkening back to another Justice Kennedy free exercise opinion from decades ago, Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, the Court elaborated upon principles that the government cannot single out and target religious beliefs for disfavored treatment. And though it went unmentioned in the Masterpiece opinion, the Court’s ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer—holding that the government may not disfavor religion in public grant programs—from just last term affirmed this principle.While the Court clarified that anti-religious animus was unacceptable (protecting Phillips for now), and while today’s opinion will likely be cited favorably by other wedding vendors who’ve experienced religious bias or animus from government actors, the opinion left other questions unanswered—namely, how the Court will handle free speech claims in the context of sexual orientation nondiscrimination regulation, or free exercise claims in the same circumstances absent such animus. The Court wasn’t exactly clear on how these matters would be decided, noting that clergy are protected (this is beyond debate), but expressing uncertainty on the myriad other matters which have arisen in the last few years as religious beliefs come into conflict with newly-mandated government requirements regarding same-sex marriage. In essence, the Court kicked that can down the road for another day.While the majority opinion produced a good result, some of the real meat was in the concurrences. Justice Gorsuch penned a concurrence (joined by Justice Alito) in which he offered a clear defense of free expression (this principle being especially important when the expression is unpopular) and a clear explanation of what actually occurred here—Phillips had an objection to the message, not the messenger. As Phillips testified, “I will not design and create wedding cakes for a same-sex wedding regardless of the sexual orienta­tion of the customer” (emphasis mine). Justice Gorsuch made very clear that Phillips was objecting to the creative process, not how the customer identified.Justice Thomas also concurred (joined by Justice Gorsuch), commenting in depth on the free speech protections he believed Phillips possessed. In doing so, he pointed out that the important free speech case Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston supported Phillips’ arguments, and noted that Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights and PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins were not applicable to scenarios like this (something I have argued separately), for they dealt with allowing other parties access to speech fora, not alterations to a party’s own message. Justice Thomas concludes:In Obergefell, I warned that the Court’s decision would ‘inevitabl[y] . . . come into conflict’ with religious liberty, ‘as individuals . . . are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.’ 576 U. S., at ___ (dissenting opinion) (slip op., at 15). This case proves that the conflict has already emerged. Because the Court’s decision vindicates Phillips’ right to free exercise, it seems that religious liberty has lived to fight another day. But, in future cases, the freedom of speech could be essential to preventing Obergefell from being used to ‘stamp out every vestige of dissent’ and ‘vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.’ Id., at ___ (ALITO, J., dissenting) (slip op., at 6). If that freedom is to maintain its vitality, reasoning like the Colorado Court of Appeals’ must be rejected.The conclusion to his concurrence, describing all the First Amendment issues not resolved by today’s opinion (which really need a legislative remedy and not a judicial one), is also a fitting conclusion for us as we anticipate the many religious liberty cases surely to be confronted in the years ahead.
Congratulations to Conrad Dejesa III (DJ) on his high school graduation. Pray for him as he is studying Medical Technology at the Trinity University of Asia in the Philippines. Also graduating is Eden Santos from GCC’s Culinary Arts program. She’ll be headed to West Coast Bible College in the fall. [...]
This morning two Jehovah's Witnesses, or Watchtowerites came to the door (I'll explain why some people call them Watchtowerites at the end). It was an older gentleman with, I presume, his wife who was in a wheelchair. They began the conversation as they often do by asking what I thought about the problems in the world today and quickly moved on to offer me copies of The Watchtower and Awake . Notice, their first port of call is not the Scriptures, but their commentary on the Scriptures, the Watchtower . Several interesting topics were covered over the time they were here. Each reveal that while they call themselves Christians, their beliefs and teachings are far from Christian. Some of the topics we covered: 1. The Trinity and the Deity of Christ The Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity. They believe God created Christ. Immediately you can see how vital a difference there is between Christianity and the Jehovah's Witnesses. If Christ is not God then He could not have suffered and died for sinners. They point to a number of Scriptures and twist many of them. I quoted John 1:1 and the lady immediately came back with their version of the Scriptures which says that the Word was A god rather than the Word was God. I took them to Colossians 1:16 which speaks about Christ and tells us that by Him all things were created. Somehow they passed over that and moved to another topic. 2. Creation. Concerning creation he said they did not believe in a literal six day creation. He spoke of II Peter 3:8 and quoted that with God a day is as a thousand years. I asked him how that worked with teachings in Exodus 31:15. There the Lord tells Israel to work 6 days and rest the 7th. I asked if that meant we are to work 6 thousand years and then rest for 1 thousand. He went back to quoting that with God a day is as a thousand years. I then referred to the rest of II Peter 3:8 which says that a thousand years is as a day. For his argument the second part of the verse cancels the first. I then asked him about the mention of the evenings and the mornings in Genesis 1. There we read about the evening and the morning being the first day etc. Because of a literal reading, the original languages and basic grammar we can be sure that Genesis 1 speaks of literal 24 hour days. They both then started talking about God simplifying things so we could understand. I asked them if that meant that God did not write what He meant to write, so we had to understand what was not there. They denied this, but of course this comes back to their magazine, the Watchtower. At some point in the conversation, not in any single moment, the tide of the conversation turned. By God's grace I had become the one controlling the conversation instead of him. This is when he started to step backwards and kept trying to make an exit. I do not know much about apologetics, but it seems this is one of the keys, controlling the flow of the conversation. I think it indicates the one who is confident in their position and understanding. They left on a good note and I came inside and printed off some studies I had done on the Trinity plus some information I had compiled on how to witness to Jehovah Witnesses. They had come to convert me so I could not see how they would be offended by my showing them how I teach on how to try and win them to the Lord. By this time, though, they were out of site. I silently prayed I would be able to find them again and go ready to take the family into town. I took the material with me and as we pulled out of our drive there they were, returning to their vehicle. I pulled over, went to the man and offered to take his material if he took mine. :) We exchanged material and went our separate ways. I pray that they will be challenged to consider what they believe and hopefully come to Christ. Watchtowerites? - Well, this is because their final authority is not the Scriptures, but the Watchtower magazine. Anyway, if you would like a copy of the material I gave them then just let me know and I will send you a copy. One of pieces of literature is mostly information I compiled from www.carm.org. (http://www.carm.org.)
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