They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.
Dear Praying Friends,
Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday became a national holiday in 1983, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. Were he not assassinated at age 39 in 1968; King would have turned 83 this month. In his classic 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” King wrote America’s clergymen. He defended and advocated for peaceful Christian protest and civil disobedience in response to systematic unrighteousness and injustice. Some excerpts:
Just as the eighth century prophets… carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns; and just as the Apostle Paul left… Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Graeco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom…I must …respond to the Macedonian call… Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…
We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights… I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers…and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity [King listed many egregious acts of injustice, hate, murder and abuse to which American blacks were subjected, even still]…
There are just and…unjust laws. “An unjust law is no law at all” [Augustine]… A just law… squares with the moral law…the law of God. An unjust law is…out of harmony with the moral law. [King wrote of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Christians who faced the lions rather than submit to unjust Roman laws, resistance against Hitler and harboring of Jews, “illegal” acts of the Hungarian freedom fighters. He urged Christians in communist lands to disobey laws against religion]…
I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis…would be some of our strongest allies… all too many… have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of the stained-glass windows… adjusted to the status quo, standing as a tail-light… rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice.
I have looked… at beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward… “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices…?” …I have wept over the laxity of the church… [once] very powerful… early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed… [T]hey had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment … They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.
The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound… often the arch supporter of the status quo… the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are…But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I am meeting young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust (read the entire letter HERE).
Though gone, King is still changing history. His words speak to believers everywhere, calling us to arise and stand, against racism and every evil and injustice in our day. May we take heed and through aggressive prayer, stir our churches to nation changing, world changing action!
Marriage in Maryland, New Jersey, Elsewhere – Last week, a New Jersey administrative judge ruled that a Methodist Church that refused to allow a same-sex union to be performed in its church camp pavilion was in violation of the law. Now same-sex “marriage” (SSM) will be at the top of the agenda in the New Jersey legislature. Governor Chris Christie (R) says he will allow Republicans to vote their conscience on the matter and won’t say whether he will veto the measure, should it pass.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) has made same-sex “marriage” his first order of business in 2012. Senate President Mike Miller (D) says it will quickly pass the upper chamber. Withdrawn by the House of Delegates last year after 5 days of excruciating debate on the House floor, insiders say it lacked just one vote for passage. The House Judiciary Committee is not eager to rehash the case, again, so pro-SSM House Speaker Michael Busch (D) will assign the bill to two committees.
Same-sex “marriage” is also being advanced in Washington State by Governor Chris Gregoire. A ballot measure is poised to be launched in Maine to overturn the 2009 citizen veto of a law legalizing homosexual marriage. A gender identity ballot measure is underway in Alaska, laying groundwork to challenge to the states own Defense of Marriage law. New Hampshire will vote on a bill to repeal the same-sex “marriage” law there but will require a sufficient majority to override the governor’s veto, which is unlikely at this point. Later this year, citizens in Minnesota and North Carolina will have an opportunity to vote on Marriage Protection Amendments! (see New Jersey Judge, Christie, Maryland, MD Family Alliance, New Jersey Family Policy Council, Washington, Other States).
•Lord, you made marriage the cornerstone of civilization, the foundation of society. Intervene to protect the institution you ordained. Help the pastors, churches and people in each of these states to rise to the occasion to prevent laws fostering homosexual “marriage” and to uphold laws that protect Natural Marriage. Grant us mercy and grace, too, in all the lawsuits making their way to the Supreme Court and every ruling and vote having to do with marriage policy (Gen 1:1, 26-28; Dt 11:18-21; Mt 19:4-6; Is 1:4-20; Eph 3:14-15; 5:22-6:4; Jude 1:6-8).
Rulings for/against Religious Liberty – The Wall Street Journal called it a “banner day for religious freedom” and a “crushing rebuke to the Obama Administration.” Last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the Obama Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). The Commission insisted that a Lutheran church could not dismiss an ordained minister, based upon church doctrine and polity, and that federal employment law superseded church law. However, the High Court ruled that the government has no such authority over a church.
Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School had hired a new teacher to replace a teacher who was given extended medical leave for treatment of a sleep disorder. After her treatment, months later, she returned demanding that the church rehire her immediately. They said she could return in the fall, but she demanded immediate rehire or she would sue. The church warned her that to do so would violate church policy (1 Cor 6:1-8) and would result in termination of her ministerial credentials. She persisted; her credentials were rescinded and the EEOC took up her case. FRC Constitutional attorney, Ken Klukowski, said: “the Supreme Court unanimously held that there is a ministerial exception to federal employment laws in the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause; that the ministerial exception applies in this case… The Supreme Court rejected the Obama administration’s profoundly troubling claim of power over churches” (see Baptist Press, Wall Street Journal, Hosanna in the Highest).
•Lord we praise and thank you that the Court upheld the heart of the first amendment. May this principle now be applied by courts and governments across our land, including the Obama Administration (1 Chr 16:334-36; 2 Chr 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Pr 29:2; Is 61:1-4; Dan 3:15-30; Am 5:24; Gal 5:1; Col 3:17).
Strangely, just days after this decision, the same U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a 4th Circuit ruling that prayers offered at official public meetings, may mention Jesus’ name only once or twice and that without elaboration. Please pray that God will intervene to reverse this senseless ruling! Thank you for praying!
Rev. Pierre Bynum
National Prayer Director
Family Research Council
801 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001