2 pastors just heckled Jeff Sessions at an event on religious liberty

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX.COM)

 

2 pastors just heckled Jeff Sessions at an event on religious liberty

They told him “you are wounding the body of Christ” by failing to care for marginalized.

Jeff Sessions has come under fire from religious groups for his anti-immigrant stance
 Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was heckled by religious leaders for his approach to the migrant crisis at a religious freedom event Monday morning.

While Sessions spoke about religious freedom at the Boston Lawyers chapter of the conservative Federalist Society, two religious leaders interrupted his speech, according to video footage from ABC News. The first man, since identified as United Methodist Pastor Will Green of the Ballard Vale United Church in Andover, quoted lines attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “I was hungry and you did not feed me. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me. I was naked and you did not clothe me.” The verses are frequently read as Jesus’s exhortation to care for the poor, sick, and marginalized.

He then told Sessions, “Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist, I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need, to remember that when you do not care for others you are wounding the body of Christ.”

While Green did not explicitly state what he was criticizing Sessions for, the attorney general has frequently come under fire from some religious groups for his hard-line stance on immigration, including his role in helping enact the Trump administration’s migrant family separation policy. Sessions is currently advocating for the narrowing of grounds for applying for asylum in the United States, even as a 4,000-strong caravan of migrants from Honduras is currently making its way to the United States-Mexico border.

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Religious leaders interrupt Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ speech: “Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need.”

Sessions: “Well, thank you for those remarks and attack but I would just tell you we do our best everyday”

His companion, Pastor Darrell Hamilton of the First Baptist Church in Boston, rose to give a second speech, but was drowned out by boos and cries of “go home” from the audience. As he was escorted out, Hamilton accused his audience of being “hypocrites” for advocating for religious liberty politically, only to deny him the opportunity to express his religious faith by quoting the gospel at the event.

Sessions appeared to laugh off the interruption, telling his audience, “I don’t believe there’s anything in the Scripture … [or my] theology that says a secular nation-state cannot have lawful laws to control immigration … not immoral, not indecent, and not unkind to state what your laws are and then set about to enforce them.” His listeners responded with raucous applause.

This is not the first time Jeff Sessions has come under fire from religious leaders for his role in the migrant crisis. In June during the migrant family separation crisis, 600 clergy and members of the United Methodist Church brought formal church charges against Sessions, who is himself a Methodist, over his role in the crisis.

Sessions was charged with racism, child abuse, immoral behavior, and the dissemination of heretical Biblical teaching — a reference to his use of the Bible verse Romans 13 to justify Christians’ submission to government policy on the issue of migration. The charges were dropped two months later, with the district superintendent in charge of Sessions’s church, Barbara Bishop, arguing in a statement that “a political action is not personal conduct when the political officer is carrying out official policy.”

The protests of the two clergymen at the event exemplify the increasingly visible role that the religious left, including both mainline Protestants and some evangelicals, are playing under the Trump administration.

From presiding Episcopal bishop Michael Curry’s fiery liberation theology-tinged sermon last spring at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Wedding to retired Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson’s openly political advocacy for LGBTQ rights at last week’s interring of Matthew Shepard, more and more religious leaders are using their platform to spread a message of political resistance.

Or, in the case of these two men, simply sharing the gospel.

Update: this article has been updated to reflect the fact that the pastors have now been identified

Brett Kavanaugh Refers To Birth Control As ‘Abortion-Inducing Drugs’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Brett Kavanaugh Refers To Birth Control As ‘Abortion-Inducing Drugs’ At Confirmation Hearing

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee defended his support of Priests for Life on the third day of his hearing.

On the third day of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he referred to contraception as “abortion-inducing drugs.”

Judge Kavanaugh was responding to a question from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday about his 2015 dissent in the Priests for Life v. HHS case. Kavanaugh had sided with the religious organization, which didn’t want to provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Aaron Rupar

@atrupar

Kavanaugh seems to refer to birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs”

Priests for Life, a Catholic group that opposes abortion rights, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services in 2013 over the provision under the Affordable Care Act that required certain health care providers to cover birth control. The group argued that the provision was a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ― the same premise of the Hobby Lobby lawsuit in 2014.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against Priests for Life in 2014. When the group tried and failed to get a full court hearing the next year, Kavanaugh dissented to lay out why he would have ruled for them.

This year, the group celebrated Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“We at Priests for Life have personal experience of Judge Kavanaugh’s approach to religious freedom, because he sided with us when we had to defend our religious freedom in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Father Frank Pavone, the organization’s national director, said in July.

“At a time when these freedoms need more defense than ever,” he went on, “we urge the Senate to conduct a swift and fair confirmation process, focused on the excellent qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh, and not on the politics of personal destruction that the Democrat Left are such experts at carrying out.”

Following Kavanaugh’s remarks on Thursday, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said it was “no wonder” activists have been so emphatic in protesting his nomination.

“Kavanaugh referred to birth control ― something more than 95 percent of women use in their lifetime ― as an ‘abortion-inducing drug,’ which is not just flat-out wrong, but is anti-woman, anti-science propaganda,” Laguens told HuffPost. “Women have every reason to believe their health and their lives are at stake.”

“Let me break it down for you, Brett,” she went on. “Birth control is basic health care. Birth control allows women to plan their futures, participate in the economy, and ― for some women with health issues like endometriosis ― allows them to get through the day.”

Bob Bland, co-president of the Women’s March, called Kavanaugh’s potential ascent to the Supreme Court “an emergency, all-hands-on-deck moment for women across America.”

“We know Brett Kavanaugh is against abortion, and now we know he thinks birth control is abortion,” Bland said Thursday.

Cruz, who brought up the Priests for Life case at Thursday’s hearing, used language similar to Kavanaugh’s when he referred to contraception as “abortifacients” at a 2013 summit. The religious right’s use of terms like “abortifacient” and “abortion-inducing drugs” has long been criticized by medical and pro-abortion rights communities.

Language has been amended to more precisely describe the timeline of the Priests for Life case.

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Colorado Gay Wedding Cake Case

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Colorado Gay Wedding Cake Case

(PHOTO: REUTERS/RICK WILKING)Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips decorates a cake in Lakewood, Colorado, September 21, 2017.

The day has arrived for Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips, whose case will finally be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday after he was punished by the state for refusing to serve the wedding of Charlie Craig and David Mullins.

The high court will hear oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case that could go a long way in determining the limit of Christian wedding vendors’ First Amendment protections.

In a case that pre-dates the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage in 2015, the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom will defend Phillips and argue that wedding cakes are equivalent to art and free expression and that their client has the right to refuse events that violate his convictions.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, there has been much heated debate in the country surrounding the intersection of LGBT protections and the religious freedom of Christian conservatives.

Many conservative Christian leaders have considered this case to be one of the most important cases pertaining to religious freedom in over a decade.

Ronnie Floyd, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and the president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, told The Christian Post that he fears a ruling against Phillips could set a negative precedent on religious freedom rights for Christian professionals, even those outside of the wedding industry.

“As the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal noted, It could compel Catholic doctors to perform abortions or force Catholic adoptions services to place children with same-sex couples,” Floyd, the pastor at Cross Church in Arkansas, said. “I think that is the far-reaching issue, whether it is Catholic or it’s evangelical — those of us who have a deep belief in religious liberty and the sanctity of human life and those kind of matters. Where does it stop? That is extremely frightening.”

“I don’t think by any means that someone that did what Jack did should be discriminated against because he doesn’t feel like he can in good conscience do that,” Floyd added. “I just think that is a violation to his own personal commitment to what he believes is right relating to one of the great traditions of the Christian faith: family and marriage between a man and a woman. That is one of the core principles.”

Some argue that Phillips should be required to make cakes for same-sex weddings because in this specific case he was not asked to travel to or attend the wedding ceremony as a part of the transaction because the wedding was in Massachusetts and the cake was for a wedding reception in Colorado.

“But even if the cake were to have been consumed at a wedding, Phillips’ creation of the cake before the ceremony would not have constituted participation in any meaningful sense,” conservative political commentator George F. Will wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post.

“Photography is inherently a creative, expressive art, so photographers have a strong case against compulsory documentation of ceremonies at which they must be present. Less clearly but plausibly, florists can claim aesthetic expression in floral arrangements, but their work is done before wedding ceremonies occur. Chauffeurs facilitate ceremonies, but First Amendment jurisprudence would become incoherent if it protected unwilling chauffeurs from their supposedly expressive participation in ceremonies to which they deliver actual participants.”

Will asserted that he believes Phillips should “lose this case.”

“A cake can be a medium for creativity; hence, in some not-too-expansive sense, it can be food for thought. However, it certainly, and primarily, is food,” Will said. “And the creator’s involvement with it ends when he sends it away to those who consume it.”

In a response to Will, National Review columnist David French argued that wedding cakes are art.

“Who has ever said that a wedding cake was primarily food? No one wants the cake to taste like trash, but is that the reason that brides, moms, and wedding planners agonize over their cake choice? (Grooms are more likely to be indifferent.) No, they want the cake to be beautiful. They want it to be — dare I say it — a work of art,” he wrote.

Carrie Severino, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network, said in a statement that this case is not about “generic cake.”

“This is not about a generic cake someone picks up at Costco. After all, Jack Phillips was willing to sell an off-the-shelf cake to the couple. But the government wanted to unconstitutionally force him to design a custom wedding cake that would promote a message in direct conflict with his conscience and deeply held religious beliefs, even when there were plenty of other businesses with no such conflict that were happy to bake that cake,” she said. “The left will try to frame this case as an LBGTQ case but, at its core, it’s about whether or not the government can force or compel an American citizen — protected by the First Amendment — to violate their religious convictions and their right to free speech.”

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board published an op-ed on Sunday in support of Phillips that argued that the state of Colorado is doing what the Supreme Court said shouldn’t be done — “demean” or “stigmatize” those with different morals.

“As Justice Kennedy noted in Obergefell, the ‘Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,'” the WSJ op-ed concludes. “If this applies to same-sex marriage, which isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, it certainly ought to apply to religious belief, which is there in black and white.”

Although Will believes that Phillips should lose his case, he doesn’t believe Phillips should have been subject to government punishment for what he did.

“Phillips ought to lose this case. But Craig and Mullins, who sought his punishment, have behaved abominably,” Will contended. “To make his vocation compatible with his convictions and Colorado law, Phillips has stopped making wedding cakes, which was his principal pleasure and 40 percent of his business. He now has only four employees, down from 10. Craig and Mullins, who have caused him serious financial loss and emotional distress, might be feeling virtuous for having done so. But siccing the government on him was nasty.”

“Denver has many bakers who, not having Phillips’s scruples, would have unhesitatingly supplied the cake they desired. So it was not necessary for Craig’s and Mullins’ satisfaction as consumers to submit Phillips to government coercion. Evidently, however, it was necessary for their satisfaction as asserters of their rights as a same-sex couple,” Will continued. “Phillips’ obedience to his religious convictions neither expressed animus toward them nor injured them nor seriously inconvenienced them. Their side’s sweeping victory in the struggle over gay rights has been decisive, and now less bullying and more magnanimity from the victors would be seemly.”

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