Christian Leaders Slam US Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage, Warn Christians of Looming Persecution


In a landmark decision, the US Supreme Court declared on Friday that gay marriage is a constitutional right, making it mandatory for all 50 states of the federal republic to recognise same-sex unions.

The ruling overturned a November decision by the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld traditional marriage laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The wide-ranging decision immediately drew the condemnation of Christian leaders worldwide, warning that it will greatly undermine religious liberty in America and lead to the persecution of more Christians.

By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court recognised same-sex “marriages” throughout the United States under the 14th Amendment.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion, said the court now holds that same-sex couples may “exercise the fundamental right to marry,” a liberty Kennedy said that had long been denied to them.

However, the ruling drew the rebuke of Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who said that the Supreme Court has knowingly chosen to reject biblical truths and endorsed sin instead, a Gospel Herald report said.

“I’m disappointed because the government is recognizing sin,” Graham told conservative columnist Todd Starnes.

“This court is endorsing sin. That’s what homosexuality is—a sin against God…I believe God could bring judgment upon America.”

Graham said Christians should prepare themselves for possible persecution following the Supreme Court’s decision.

“You better be ready and you better be prepared because it’s coming. There will be persecution of Christians for our stand,” he said.

Regardless of the ruling, Graham said he will refuse to marry any same-sex couple. “I will never recognise it in my heart because God gave marriage between a man and a woman and that’s what marriage is,” he said. “And I don’t think the court—since it never defined marriage—doesn’t have the right to redefine it. God gave us marriage. Period. And God doesn’t change his mind.”

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, likewise denounced the Supreme Court ruling, saying it was “improper” for the court to redefine an institution that has existed long before man thought of establishing a government.

“I believe this action of finding some illusory Fourteenth Amendment right to same-sex marriage will have wide-ranging and perilous consequences for the stability of families and for freedom of religion,” Moore warned.

America’s Catholic bishops joined in the protest, telling Catholics to bear witness to the truth of marriage despite the court’s decision.

“Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable,” said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the US bishops conference.

“Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman,” Kurtz added. “As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.”

“The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female,” Kurtz said.

“Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.”

It was noteworthy that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito dissented from the majority decision and, in an unusual step, each wrote separate opinions.

“The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment,” Roberts said. “The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this court’s precedent.”

“Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law,” he said.

Justice Antonin Scalia called the decision a “threat to American democracy,” “hubris” and a “judicial putsch.”

Justice Thomas said same-sex marriage and religious liberty are now on a collision course as individuals and churches are expected to face demands to participate and endorse same-sex marriages. The court decision, he said, “short circuits” the political process “with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”

Justice Alito, for his part, said he expects the decision “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.”

To mitigate the effects of the court’s decision, calls were immediately made for a federal constitutional amendment to protect the definition of marriage. Voters in 30 states in the federal republic have already passed constitutional amendments and referenda strengthening the legal definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman. However, many of these efforts have been nullified in state or federal court challenges.

Following court’s decision, which throws away God’s meaning for marriage, “the battlefield shifts to religious freedom,” according to Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary.

“Will the progressive, totalitarian and intolerant left weaponise the government and attempt to force or compel people to affirm same-sex behavior and relationships? Or will they respect the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Constitution?” Land asked.

Nearly 16 million members of the Southern Baptist Convention were encouraged to “openly reject any mandated legal definition of marriage and to use their influence to affirm God’s design for life and relationships,” according to a Fox News report.

Legal experts said the court’s decision faces considerable social and legal obstacles.

“Redefining marriage to make it a genderless institution fundamentally changes marriage,” said Ryan Anderson, the William E. Simon senior research fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation.

“It makes the relationship more about the desires of adults than about the needs, or the rights, of children,” he added.

The Supreme Court also played “activist” in re-defining marriage, an issue that should have been left to the state-level democratic process, said Caleb Dalton, a legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom.

The Court “invented a new constitutional right,” Dalton told the Catholic News Agency.

“The Fourteenth Amendment does not speak to what marriage is, and today the Supreme Court decided that it knows better than millions of Americans what the best social policy for the United States is.”

(Article from Christianity Today by Jay Gotera at http://www.christiantoday.com)

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Garrissa Survivor: ‘I Prayed, Make Them to Be Blind’

As students arrived in the early morning, it seemed like another ordinary school day. With shots beginning to fire around 7:00 a.m., students and teachers would quickly face one of the deadliest attacks on Kenyan soil.

Months have passed since gunmen from the jihadist group, al-Shabaab, stormed Kenya’s Garissa University college. The attack killed 147 people and injured more than 80.

The terrorists also took 700 students hostage during the siege, dividing Christians and Muslims. Four of the attackers were killed that day and five men were later arrested in connection with the attack.

A Survivor Speaks

Nineteen-year-old Cynthia Cheroitich attended Garissa University and tells a survival story that has gone viral around the world. After travelling for six hours by bus to meet CBN News’ Angela Zatopek, she was ready to speak about what happened that day.

“The men were dividing the Muslims and non-Muslims by making us recite the Koran,” Cheroitich told Zatopek.

As terror swept the University halls, the four gunmen began shooting students who couldn’t recite the Koran. Cheroitich ran to her room to alert her roommates and the girls hid under their beds.

“The men were yelling that the women were safe and they could come out. Everyone was confused because the women were then coming out and realized they lied…they just started shooting,” Cheroitich said.

Realizing the women weren’t safe, Cheroitch climbed in a small cupboard above her bed, but she accidently left her purse on the floor.

The men entered her dorm room and found her two roommates under their beds. When they saw the purse on the floor, they began asking where the third roommate was hiding. Cheroitich’s roommates did not reveal her hiding place and tragically are among the 147 who lost their lives that day.

Miracle and Forgiveness

Cheroitich covered her head with bags and papers, praying for a miracle from God.

“I was praying to God, ‘make them to be blind so they cannot see me,'” she said, remembering when one of the attackers opened the cabinet where she was hiding. “They could not see me when he opened the cupboard even though I had the bags on my head.”

She hid for three days and was forced to drink body lotion. Even so, she still suffered from severe dehydration.

Cheroitich remembered the friends and loved ones she lost that day and then Zatopek asked her a final question: “If you could say one thing to the men of al-Shabaab who did this to your friends that day, what would you say?”

“I would have to forgive them, because the Bible says forgive your enemies because they do not know what they are doing,” Cheroitich replied.

(Article fro CBN News by Angela Zatopek at http://www.cbn.com)

New twist in wrangle over changing physical constant

A new study of distant galaxies is adding a fresh perspective to the debate over whether a fundamental physical constant has actually changed over time. The work suggests the number has not varied in the last 7 billion years, but more observations are still needed to settle the issue.

The controversy centres on the fine-structure constant, also called alpha, which governs how electrons and light interact. Alpha is an amalgam of other constants, including the speed of light. So any change in alpha implies a change in the speed of light – and indeed in the entire standard model of physics – with string theories touting extra spatial dimensions stepping in to fill the breach.

So it caused a sensation in 2001 when a team led by John Webb, an astrophysicist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, announced the constant had changed by about one part in 100,000 over 12 billion years. Webb’s team studied about 140 clouds of gas and dust that absorb light from distant, bright quasars. Subtle changes in the relative position of absorption lines from elements in the clouds’ spectra suggested alpha had changed over time.

But another team using higher-quality quasar absorption data, though fewer observations, failed to find any change in 2004. And different researchers studying a natural nuclear reactor in Oklo, Gabon in Africa have also come to opposing conclusions about alpha’s constancy.Slippery customer

John Bahcall, an astrophysicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, US, helped pioneer quasar absorption studies in the 1960s, but he says this method can be slippery to interpret.

“The absorption line data is subject to misidentification of the lines and to the introduction of theoretical assumptions which may not be correct,” he told New Scientist. He adds that the spectral lines may be faint and can overlap, making it difficult to tell the lines’ source, and that astronomers must assume that all of the clouds share the same basic composition. Similarly, he says, interpreting the Oklo data involves making assumptions about other physical constants that might be subject to change.

Now, astronomers have used another method Bahcall developed to probe alpha. Rather than using absorption lines from clouds in space, a team led by Jeffrey Newman of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, US, has focused directly on a pair of emission lines from ionised oxygen in the galaxies themselves.

“With emission lines, you can choose systems that have a very strong, characteristic appearance and are isolated to be sure you have the right objects,” says Bahcall. And because the average wavelength of the light emitted by the oxygen ions is a direct measurement of alpha, he says, “the fine-structure constant pops out without any interpretation”.

Clean and simple

However, the new study cannot yet claim the precision of Webb’s result. Newman’s group used observations of 300 galaxies, lying between 4 billion and 7 billion light years away, to find that alpha has changed by no more than one part in 30,000 – the resolution limit of the data – in 7 billion years.

But Newman says the method is superior to the absorption line alternative, telling New Scientist: “It’s simpler, it’s cleaner, and to date people haven’t gotten contradictory results from it.”

Bahcall says the team has done an “absolutely superb job” and adds that more observations – including more distant galaxies – will improve the precision of the measurement still further.

Newman presented the results, from a survey of distant galaxies called DEEP2, at a meeting of the American Physical Society in Tampa, Florida, on Monday.

(Article from New Scientist published on 15:33 19 April 2005 by Maggie McKee at http://www.newscientist.com)

Muslim who Used to Attack Christians and Burn Bibles is now a MISSIONARY, Thanks to a Powerful Encounter with God.

He hated Christians with such a passion he and his friends attacked them on their way to church and burned their Bibles. But two powerful encounters with God changed the course of his life.

 

(Source: Grace vine at http://gracevine.christiantoday.com)

ISIS Militant Converts to Christianity after Meeting Jesus in a Dream

the-black-flag-of-the-isisAn Islamic State (ISIS) militant converted to Christianity after meeting Jesus in dream, according to a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) missionary in the Middle East.

Speaking on The Voice of the Martyrs Radio Network, Gina Fadely, the former director of the organisation’s Frontier Missions, said that one of YWAM’s workers was introduced to an ISIS fighter who had killed a number of Christians. He even admitted to having enjoyed doing so, until he met Jesus in a dream.

“He [the jihadist] told this YWAM leader that he had begun having dreams of this man in white who came to him and said, ‘You are killing my people.’ And he started to feel really sick and uneasy about what he was doing,” Fadely said.

She added that the militant was given a Bible by a Christian man who was about to be killed, which he took and read. “In another dream, Jesus asked him to follow him and he was now asking to become a follower of Christ and to be discipled,” Fadely said. “So who knows, perhaps this man will be like Saul in the Bible, who persecuted Christians and then turned from that persecution of the early church to become the Apostle Paul who led it.

“God can turn it around.”

Kevin Sutter, current president of YWAM Frontier Missions, said there was a lesson to be learnt in not assuming that ISIS militants are “out of reach of God’s grace and out of reach of God’s spirit”.

He said a colleague in the Middle East told him “he has never seen spiritual hunger among Muslim people like he’s seeing now.”

“This is unprecedented, this has never happened in history,” Sutter added. “He said there are gospel programmes going out in Arabic throughout the region, radio and TV and there is a huge response.

“Many people are now following Jesus but they keep it quiet. They haven’t gone public about it. They even have church in their own home, they’re watching, they’ll serve Communion to one another as they’re watching TV.”

ISIS are now in control of huge swathes of Iraq and Syria, where they are trying to establish a Caliphate. This week, the Archbishop of Aleppo called for intervention from Western forces to stop the “monstrosities” being perpetrated by the jihadists.

“ISIS, which has already killed thousands in the region, is terrifying the faithful in Aleppo,” he wrote in a message to Aid to the Church in Need.

“After [attacks on] Maloula, Mosul, Idleb and Palmyra, what is the West waiting for before it intervenes? What are the great nations waiting for before they put a halt to these monstrosities?”

 

(Article from Christian Today by Carey Lodge at http://www.christiantoday.com)

Pastors Facing Death Sentence: ‘We’re Not Afraid’

Two South Sudanese pastors possibly facing execution in Sudan said they are not afraid to die. They’ve been charged with “inciting organized groups” and “offending Islamic beliefs.”

Pastors Yat Michael and David Yein spoke with Sr. International Correspondent George Thomas by phone from their Khartoum jail cell.

Sudan Graphic_zpsmjuo4hhhMichael said he has suffered psychological intimidation and hasn’t talked to his family for two months. He was accused of spying when he was arrested last January.

“When they interviewed me, they asked me why I’m preaching here. I say, ‘I am preaching because this is my call. I am a pastor. I must speak the Word of God,'” Michael told Thomas.

“They say ‘No, you don’t need to preach the Word of God with a hidden agenda,'” he recalled. “I said, ‘No, I don’t have any hidden agenda.’ They accused me because I’m a spy here. They say like that.”

Yein said he’s not afraid because God chose him to suffer. He wants Christians to pray that their imprisonment will be for God’s glory, and that both pastors will be at peace with those who oppose them.

On trial since May 19, they’ve been officially charged with “inciting organized groups” and “offending Islamic beliefs.”  Sudanese law (sharia) requires them to be executed if they are convicted.

Both Christians–who are from South Sudan–say they had no hidden agenda while visiting Khartoum; they were only answering God’s call to share the Word with the people of Sudan.

In an exclusive CBN News interview, Senior International Correspondent George Thomas talked to the two pastors via telephone from their Khartoum prison cell.

Sudanese-PastorsYat Michael told Thomas while he has not suffered physical beating during his imprisonment, he has experienced psychological intimidation. Also, he said it has been two months since he’s been allowed to talk with his family.

Speaking mostly in Arabic, David Yein told Thomas he is “not afraid of anything” because “God chose me to suffer.”
He asks that Christians pray that his suffering will “be for the glory of God” in the prison.

You may watch and listen to each interview here. I’ve also provided a transcript of both interviews and a translation of Yein’s comments which were spoken in Arabic:


TRANSCRIPT:

Reverend Yat Michael: We are fine thanks be to God. We were being here for five to six months since we were arrested. David Yein Was arrested 14th of December up to today. And I was arrested on 11 January up to today.

George Thomas: Have they done anything to you, have they beaten you, have they tried to intimidate you?

Yat Michael: No. They were…it was just only a psychologically incitement because we were being separated from our families for two months without hearing them. That was a tough problem to us.

We came from South Sudan and because of the war in South Sudan we came here in Sudan and we just go to go do our ministry training in our church and then they came to me-especially myself– they arrest me in my house. I don’t know why they do that. When they interviewed me, they asked me why I’m preaching here. I say I am preaching because this is my call. I am a pastor. I must speak the Word of God. They say no, you don’t need to preach the Word of God with a hidden agenda. I said no, I don’t have any hidden agenda. They accused me because I’m a spy here. They say like that.

George Thomas: How are you doing inside the prison, how is your faith?

Yat Michael: Yeah, it is my destination. My faith, I don’t, I don’t even I don’t have a sense of patience 15:28 I must call on my faith. It is not a new thing to me. They just keep us for nothing. They just keep us in the prison for nothing. And they are terrible to us. We are staying in, for confinement without any crime that we commit.

Reverend David Yein:

George: Are you afraid that you could be killed for this?

David Yein: No, I am not afraid of anything….I am never afraid of anything because it is my love, it is my being, because I believe. God chose me to suffer.

(Arabic translated to English)

I’m not afraid from doing my ministry and my message I’m chosen by God. I serve him in any circumstances, be instant in season, out of season.

George Thomas: I’m sure you miss your wives a lot…

David Yein: I missed her. We can’t be together because there is a legal restriction, but she sees me from the window, and she is sure that I’m here. I’m really here with a good condition, but I’m waiting to be outside.

George Thomas: Will you still continue to preach The Gospel?

David Yein: I preach and serve and I’m sending the message of the gospel to the whole world as the lord said: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

George Thomas: Have you had a chance to preach The Gospel in prison to other people?

David Yein: We have a church in the prison and we pray with the prisoners and the sentenced and the accused people.

George Thomas: Pastor, how can we pray for you, how can we pray for you and the other brother?

David Yein: We want you to pray that this test be for the glory of God in this place… and for us to be in peace with our people and the ones who are against us.

 

 

(Article from CBN News by Gary Lane at http://www.cbn.com)