- - Monday, February 20, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Pew Research released data showing that “Americans Express Increasingly Warm Feelings Toward Religious Groups.”

While Americans still feel coolest toward Muslims and atheists, mean ratings for these two groups increased from a somewhat chilly 40 and 41 degrees, respectively, to more neutral ratings of 48 and 50. Jews and Catholics continue to be among the groups that receive the warmest ratings — even warmer than in 2014.
Evangelical Christians, rated relatively warmly at 61 degrees, are the only group for which the mean rating did not change since the question was last asked in 2014. 
In a move that’s been more than two years in the making, Bob Jones University announced Wednesday it would regain its federal tax-exempt status on March 1, more than three decades after the IRS stripped its nonprofit status following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The issue in the court case was the university’s refusal to allow interracial dating or marriage among students, staff or faculty of the university, a rule it has since abandoned. 
Bono, who called the Vice President [Mike Pence] “the second busiest man on Earth,” thanked Pence for voting twice to pass the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) — once in 2003 when introduced by George W. Bush and then to renew it in 2008.
In Fiscal Year 2016, PEPFAR provided almost 20,000 new Kenyan children with antiretroviral therapy, which slows the rate at which HIV multiplies.
“Twice on the House floor you defended that. That’s how we know you, and we really appreciate that,” Bono told Pence. 
Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, says its new field hospital is treating hundreds of injured Iraqis — including sworn Islamic State terrorists. The hospital is just miles from the frontlines of Mosul. For many of the injured, the hospital is their only chance at life.
 
“Right now with our Emergency Field Trauma Hospital outside Mosul, Iraq, we are treating Muslims, wounded civilians — men, women, and children — many of whom were shot by ISIS snipers as they fled Mosul,” Graham said in a Facebook post.

Mark Tooley wrote a fantastic response to Sufjans Steven’s OpEd from last week: Is America a “Christian Nation”?

Countries may not have eternal souls like individuals that can be redeemed, but they can be broadly Christian demographically and by historical influence. The Scriptures do speak of nations existing in God’s fully restored creation, so seemingly they are neither intrinsically evil nor mere earthly trifles to be discarded.
For most of Christian history, most Christians have believed that political units and people groups could be described as Christian. Perhaps they were naive, or presumptuous, or even heretical, as Stevens suggests. Or perhaps his own hyper-Protestant, pietistic view, which seemingly claims the title Christian only for the truly elect, as he defines them, is flawed and at odds with historic Christian teaching. Maybe modesty and context are needed in this conversation.
…Doubtless Stevens means well. But his rhetoric and assumptions echo the ennui and impatience only really possible amid wealth, privilege, comfort and security. Would a Christian in Nigeria, India or China talk this way? His demanding but vague American pop theology seems disconnected from the accumulated riches of 2000 years of Christian thought. He is not the first to notice earthly hypocrisy and injustice. There is a long and wide cloud of witnesses across centuries and cultures who offer enduring counsel.
David Platt, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s mission agency, apologized for ‘divisive’ IMB amicus brief.
“I apologize to Southern Baptists for how distracting and divisive this has been,” Platt said Feb. 15 during a meeting with Baptist state paper editors in Ontario, Calif.
 
“I can say with full confidence,” he said, “that in the days ahead, IMB will have a process in place to keep us focused on our primary mission: partnering with churches to empower limitless missionary teams for evangelizing, discipling, planting and multiplying healthy churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.” 
Owen Strachan responded to Baronelle Stutzman losing her court case last week.
Again, the best and most consequential thing we can do here is to petition our heavenly Father on Baronelle’s behalf. Any fair-minded person can and should support Baronelle, but the church has a divine call to stand alongside those who suffer (see Hebrews 13:3). And do not forget the thick and terrible irony here: in a world of lies, with evil everywhere at hand, an agent of American government is acting to smash not a terrorist, not a law-breaker, but a well-loved woman who has done nothing other than live out her religious beliefs. This is wrong. This is a travesty.
 
Justice has miscarried this day.
Finally, on this date in 1907: “President Theodore Roosevelt signed an immigration act which excluded “idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons” from being admitted to the United States.” (The Associated Press)

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