- The Washington Times - Monday, February 27, 2023

Twelve days of nonstop prayer meetings at Asbury University in Kentucky wound down this week as the school said its neighbors in Wilmore (population 6,000) were overwhelmed by traffic and other concerns. The college turned to scheduled prayer meetings this week, and the school pledged to balance spiritual needs with the task of running an institution where students come for an education.

“We believe that the continued flourishing of such a movement invites us to commission our Asbury community, visiting students, and other campus guests from across the world to neighbor-serving, God-honoring work,” Asbury President Kevin J. Brown said in a statement.

The scheduled prayer meetings wound down Thursday, the National Collegiate Day of Prayer, the school said.

Meanwhile, some are hoping “Jesus Revolution,” a film that looks back at the early 1970s movement of the same name, might spark another wave of spiritual seeking. The motion picture tells the story of Greg Laurie, who came from a dysfunctional background to find hope in Christianity.

The film, being released in movie theaters this weekend, stars actors Kelsey Grammer (“Fraser”) as the Rev. Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel; Joel Courtney (“The Kissing Booth”) as Mr. Laurie; and Jonathan Roumie as hippie-turned-evangelist Lonnie Frisbee, whose conflicted life is a departure from Mr. Roumie’s show-stopping portrayal of Jesus in the online series streaming sensation “The Chosen.”

Jon Erwin, who co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced the movie, said the coincidence of the film’s launch on the heels of the Asbury revival suggests “if it happened before, maybe it can happen again. And this movement was a Jesus movement. It was that simple. And it underscored by love and by people coming together.”

Supreme Court asked to protect workers’ right to day of worship

Gerald Groff wanted to deliver the mail for the U.S. Postal Service, but he also wanted to worship God on Sunday, which he honors as the Sabbath. When the postal agency demanded Mr. Groff work on that day, the letter carrier quit and sued.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Mr. Groff’s case April 18, but his lawyers filed a brief outlining their arguments this week.

The high court said it would take the Groff case to determine if he has backing under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination due to religion, including “all aspects of religious observance and practice” unless that “undue hardship” is created by accommodating the worker.

Mr. Groff’s attorneys argue the court’s 1977 decision in Trans World Airlines v. Hardison “gutted Title VII’s vital protections.” Attorney Alan J. Reinach of the Church State Council in Westlake Village, California, said the court “has a historic opportunity to do justice for American workers who don’t want to leave their religion at home when they go to work. The number one religious freedom problem facing Americans today is choosing between their religion and their job.”

Pro-life marchers look to June

Some pro-life activists are pushing to move national marches against abortion from January to June to celebrate the end of Roe v. Wade, TWT’s Sean Salai reports.

While they want to keep marching annually in Washington, leaders of 40 Days for Life, Students for Life of America and Healing the Culture say it’s time to redirect national efforts to the June 24 anniversary of the high court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson last year. That decision overturned Roe and returned jurisdiction over abortion to the states.

Thousands of activists attended the 50th annual March for Life last month. That event marks the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973, Supreme Court ruling in Roe that legalized abortion nationwide.

Catholic bookstore owner sues Florida city over pronouns

A Catholic bookstore owner in Florida filed a federal lawsuit challenging Jacksonville’s updated Human Rights Ordinance, saying that she fears using pronouns that reflect biological sex only will run afoul of the updated anti-discrimination measure.

The ordinance forbids public accommodations, including businesses, from publishing or posting notices “to the effect that accommodations, services, goods advantages, facilities are denied to a person or that the patronage of such person is unwelcome, objectionable, or unacceptable.”

Christie DeTrude said the ban on communication in the measure that could make someone feel “unwelcome” based on gender identity violates her First Amendment rights, The Washington Times’ Valerie Richardson reports.

“Free speech is for everyone. Americans should be free to say what they believe without fear of government punishment,” said Rachel Csutoros, the Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel representing Ms. DeTrude.

Saddleback Church likely to appeal expulsion from Southern Baptists

Saddleback Church, the California megachurch led for 43 years by the Rev. Rick Warren, was booted this week from the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, because it employs a woman as a “teaching pastor.”

The Orange County church’s elders indicated an appeal was possible, and a Southern Baptist leader who is not connected to Saddleback said it was “likely” the church would raise its case at a June general business session in New Orleans.

An SBC rule forbids women from holding such a role, explaining “while both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

Saddleback, which is the second-largest congregation in the Southern Baptist Convention, claimed a weekly attendance of 23,494 in 2020.  When Rev. Warren announced his retirement last year, he said Andy and Stacie Wood were “God’s couple to lead our congregation.” 

Mr. Wood is the “lead pastor” for Saddleback and its satellite campuses. Ms. Wood is a “teaching pastor” whose role in preaching from the pulpit transgresses Baptist polity.

Merchant Marine Acadmy to move painting of Jesus

A wall-sized painting of Jesus will be moved from a conference room at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to the school’s chapel following weeks of protests from alumni and a group opposed to public-area expressions of Christianity on military bases.

“Christ on the Water” has been displayed in the Elliot M. See Room, once the King’s Point, New York, school’s interfaith chapel, since 1947. The room is used for non-religious functions, including disciplinary meetings, and critics said the artwork’s display there could intimidate non-Christian students and faculty.

“We have decided to discontinue use of the Elliott See Room for official business,” an academy statement said. “We will engage a vendor to clean and restore the [“Christ on the Water”] painting and eventually display it in the Academy’s Chapel.”

The painting’s removal from the See Room spurred backlash from five members of Congress, who sent letters asking superintendent Vice Admiral Joanna M. Nunan to reverse course. But a 1983 graduate lauded the step as showing “a deep commitment” by the school “to unit cohesion, to its midshipmen, faculty and staff.”

In our opinion

FBI should account for agency’s attack on religious freedom. The Washington Times’ editorial board argues this week that the FBI shouldn’t be allowed to get away with its internal memo suggesting Roman Catholics who attend the traditional Latin Mass are “‘potential threats to the nation’s domestic tranquility.”

Our editorial states: “Allowing the FBI to slide away on this would be a mistake. At a minimum, the bureau should have to identify who wrote and who saw the memo. It seems reasonable to ask who at the FBI is willing to undermine freedom of religion and characterize an entire group of citizens as potential terrorists just because they have a solid preference for some old-time religion.” 

Is history repeating itself? Columnist Everett Piper reports the United Nations Human Rights Council has Christianity in its sights as a “threat to human life and prosperity.”

“In case you missed the obvious, what the smart people at the pinnacles of power are saying is this: If you are a practicing Christian who believes what the Bible says, you are bad — very, very bad — and you represent one of the greatest threats to the international community’s hellbent determination to dumb down the definition of human identity to nothing more than the sum total of human inclinations and desires.”

Those who dismiss this as “adolescent ramblings” should take note, he said.

“I close with these words from Martyn Iles: ‘We’re living in a clown world. In Ancient Rome, the authorities blamed Christianity for the evils of their day because they either hated it or were totally ignorant concerning it. I guess history can repeat [itself].’”

Reasons parents should be very afraid about their kids’ tech. Columnist Billy Hallowell details four data points that should raise the hair on every parent’s head. 

Statistics show most kids have seen pornographic images by the time they’re 13, he notes, and that has led to a rising acceptance of porn. In turn, teens and young adults feel more emotionally disconnected than other generations, and “Generation Z” members are extremely confused about morals and values. 

“Parents today must jump into action to protect, guide, and go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure they correctly understand the information children are encountering.”


• Billy Hallowell can be reached at bhallowell@washingtontimes.com.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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