Blue Flower

URGENT CALL TO PRAY:


The Supreme Court has begun hearing arguments in a case where the plaintiffs
are suing Ohio to validate same-sex marriages solemnized in other states.
The lawsuit concerns a same-sex couple who married in Maryland and are
alleging their 14th Amendment rights of due process and equal protection are
being violated by failure to recognize the union. At issue is whether or not
individual states will retain the freedom to define marriage as between one
man and one woman. An unfavourable ruling by the Court will undermine state
sovereignty, and diminish America's Judeo-Christian heritage and one of our
most time-honoured and God-ordained institutions. In a Constitutional
Republic, the people should have the authority in such matters. 

The Bill of Rights protects the freedoms of all citizens, including the
freedom of religious expression and free speech. Today, these principles are
being undermined and trampled upon by increasingly emboldened anti-faith
activists, growing government overreach and what amounts to judicial
tyranny. Numerous leaders are seeking to protect our fundamental rights;
however, it is the citizens who must exercise their authority to stand
against injustice, and raise their voices in the halls of power as our
freedoms are being eroded. Some seek to detract from this alarming attempt
to radically change our form of government by convincing a generation that
the definition of marriage is another civil rights movement. 

Sexual preference is being elevated to the same level as race and gender.
Currently, individual states give the people the authority to determine what
policies and legislative initiatives are best for their respective state.
Now 9 Supreme Court Judges will essentially decide whether or not to
override the will of the people and effectively rescind their Constitutional
right to establish their own duly passed laws on this issue. By in large,
the United States remains an overtly spiritual nation. The tenets of the
three major religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, which represent 84%
of the population, address the subject of sexual orientation and behaviour
and all teach that natural marriage is a sacred and holy union between and
man and a woman. 

This reality underscores the overwhelming relevance of faith and beliefs in
our culture. A judicial ruling on the wrong side of the issue not only
infringes on religious liberties for the vast majority of Americans, it also
coerces citizens to deny their convictions and compels them to affirm the
government's definition of marriage. If the trend to such change continues,
faith values will be increasingly marginalized and Christians will continue
to be wrongly labelled as discriminatory simply for holding to traditional
views on marriage. We cannot and must not passively sit on the sidelines and
allow our right of conscience to be dictated by the state. This only
denigrates the dignity of each person and the stability of our
self-governing Republic. 

Businesses are already being forced to provide services that compromise
their beliefs or conflict with moral convictions. To do otherwise brings the
risk of job removal, fines, lawsuits, public outcry from a liberal media and
even jail time. Our nation is surely at a crossroads. A role of government
is to protect the First Amendment freedoms of the American people, not
coerce or impose fines upon those that live out their faith in the public
square. The challenges facing America are real and they are significant. The
time has come to shake off our lethargy and discouragement, to awaken the
slumbering giant that is the church, and to refocus and remind ourselves
that history-and the God we serve-is with us. 

America has put her trust in God since our inception. He is looking to His
people to humble themselves, seek Him on their knees and repent. Hundreds of
churches and prayer groups all over the country are gathering for prayer.
Petitions are being circulated, concerned citizens are blogging and using
social media as a means to galvanize support. Please pray fervently for the
Supreme Court Justices and their ruling on this case. Never has so much been
at stake. Congressman J. Randy Forbes, once said: "Freedom of conscience can
include nothing less than the way a person lives all aspects of their life.
As a nation, our laws must encourage and support, not penalize, citizens who
seek to adhere to their moral convictions."


Source: Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation

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NEPAL'S LONG DELAYED TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY WORRIES ITS CHRISTIANS


As Nepal struggles to respond to the massive earthquake and aftershocks that
have left thousands dead, as one of the poorest and most isolated countries
in the world it will require massive overseas aid. It is still overcoming
the legacy of its 10-year bloody Maoist insurgency and the abolition of its
monarchy in 2008 when the country's first democratic election was held. The
Hindu-majority country is yet to establish a new Constitution however there
is a lot still to be done before Nepal's political parties arrive at a
consensus on what the Constitution should contain. The delay will be a
disappointment to the country's 3% Christian population hopeful that the new
constitution will guarantee them equal rights and religious freedoms. 

But as its political parties fail to agree what it will contain, Christians,
who've suffered persecution and inequality for decades, are uncertain about
their future. Dr. K.B. Rokaya, a former member of Nepal's Human Rights
Commission says: "The country cannot go on like this, the transition period
is too long. We should institutionalize the republican setup and the secular
state - two historic gains for which more than 17,000 people sacrificed
their lives. "There should also be full religious freedom. "The
inter-religious council in Nepal has defined religious freedom as every
citizen having the right to choose the religion of their choice and people
being free to share their faith with fellow citizens. People must also have
the freedom not to believe in any religion." 

To other Christians in Nepal religious freedom means the right to have a
legal identity for their churches and organizations, and the right to bury
their dead. Pastor Ram Shrestha, of the National Mission Commission of Nepal
said: "There's no respect for Christianity, and we are not allowed to have
open fellowship, only inside a hall or a building, but our churches are not
registered." Pastor Sundar Thapa, of Federation of National Christians -
Nepal said: "The church is not legally recognized by the government. That's
why the property of the church is in the name of individual people.
Sometimes disputes arise between individuals which causes church property to
be sold, so we are worried about the future." 

Pastor Thapa went on "When a Christian dies, there's no burial ground. So we
have to take the body into the jungle where nobody can see. Sometimes Hindus
come and beat us up." Ram Prasad Shrestha followed: "My brother-in-law
passed away, and we had to drive his body for 5 hours because we did not
have a cemetery available to us in Kathmandu valley."  Nepal's Hindu groups
are resisting the idea of secularism and are accusing Christians of
unethical conversions. The relations between Hindus and Christians depends
who they are and who you are. Some staunch Hindus do not want to know or
hear the word 'Christian.' Some intellectuals repeat Gandhi's statement, 'I
like Christ but not Christians'. Others are very helpful, and very
supportive. 

"A lot of politicians are anti-Christian. "One political party campaigns on
anti-Christian feeling. This is divisive and not good for Nepal. K B Rokaya
said "In the Assembly even though we are more than 3% of the population they
ignore us. The Hindu's speak hate against us. 'We'll attack and destroy
churches, we'll breaks the legs of Christians,' they say. Pastor Tek Dahal,
National Churches' Fellowship of Nepal said: "We are treated as second-class
citizens." Since 1950, the late King Tribhuvan allowed Christians to live in
the nation. Before that Christians were not allowed to live in Nepal. In
2006 the nation was declared a secular nation. Though we are now 1.1
million, the government has not accepted Christians as one of the religions
of the nation." 

Christians are praying for the best amid the delay in announcing a new
constitution. But they are also prepared for the worst and to carry on, come
what may. Mahendra Bhattarai said: "We have to love our brothers
irrespective of their faith because there is only one God, only one Creator,
so they may be Hindus or Muslims, however they are still God's creation. And
they are our brothers." K.B. Rokaya said: "As Christians, we are always
prepared to work and live our faith under any circumstances. So difficulties
and obstacles do not hinder Christians from living, propagating, and sharing
their faith. "Even though there are some people not happy with secularism
and would like to see Nepal become a Hindu kingdom again, I think Nepal
cannot go back."

Source: World Watch Monitor

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CHRISTIAN LEADERS IN U.S. THREATEN CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE


"We will not obey." That's the blunt warning a group of prominent religious
leaders is sending to the Supreme Court of the United States as they
consider same-sex marriage. "We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to
cross that line," they said in a written pledge. "We stand united in defence
of marriage. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage
is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the
line we cannot and will not cross," the pledge states. The pledge was
crafted by Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America Action; James
Dobson, founder of Family Talk Radio; and Mat Staver, founder of Liberty
Counsel.

The signees are a who's who of American Christianity including former
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, National
Religious Broadcasters president Jerry Johnson, Pastor John Hagee, and
Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic
Association and Samaritan's Purse. Staver said that once same-sex marriage
is legalised - it will transform the face of society and will result in the
"beginning of the end of Western Civilization." "You are essentially saying
that boys and girls don't need mums and dads, they are irrelevant," Staver
said. "When government adopts same-sex marriage it creates a genderless
relationship out of a very gender-specific relationship." 

It says that it doesn't matter and that two mums or two dads are equivalent
to a mum and a dad." Dobson said the legalization of same-sex marriage could
fracture the nation. "The institution of marriage is fundamental and it must
be defended," he said. "It's the foundation for the entire culture. It's
been in existence for 5,000 years. If you weaken or undermine it - the
entire superstructure can come down. We see it as that important." And that
means the possibility of Christians engaging in acts of civil disobedience.
Staver said "I'm talking about peaceful resistance against unjust laws and
rulings." I'm calling for people to not recognize the legitimacy of that
ruling because it's not grounded in the Rule of Law," he said. 

Stayer went on "We need to resist that ruling in every peaceful way
possible, as much as Martin Luther King, Jr. resisted unjust laws in his
time." Scarborough said the pledge was meant to be forthright and clear.
"We're facing a Constitutional crisis if the Supreme Court rules adversely
on same-sex marriage," he said. I'm going to choose to serve the Lord and I
think that thousands of others will do the same." He referenced the
"outrageous penalties" being assessed against people of faith simply because
they refuse to participate in a same-sex union. An Oregon bakery is facing a
$135,000 fine for refusing to make a cake for a lesbian wedding and a
Washington State florist faces fines for refusing to provide flowers for a
gay wedding. 

"Christians are being declared the lawbreakers when we are simply living by
what we have always believed, and the culture has historically agreed to,"
he said. Dobson said there's no doubt that gay activists are targeting
Christian business owners. "For about 50 years the homosexual community has
had as its goal to change the culture, and if necessary, force people to
agree by use of the courts," Dobson said. "We are on a collision course and
where it's going to go is anybody's guess - but it is serious." Those who
courageously signed this pledge did so knowing the hell storm that is about
to be unleashed on them - and their families. "We have no choice," Staver
said. "We cannot compromise our clear biblical convictions, our religious
convictions."


Source: Intercessors for America

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CHURCH OF ENGLAND TO 'LEGALISE' SUICIDE IN HISTORIC U-TURN ON FUNERALS


The Church of England is embroiled in a row over proposals to sweep away
laws that forbid a full Christian funeral to people who have taken their own
lives. Most clergy now regard suicide with far more sympathy than when
'self-murder' was still a crime, and the move will be seen as reflecting a
growing acceptance as more Britons choose to end their lives in clinics such
as Dignitas in Switzerland. But some critics within the Church say the
reforms will 'legalise' suicide, which should still be regarded a serious
sin. One senior member said: 'The Church has always opposed suicide on the
basis of the commandment Thou Shalt Not Kill, and that includes yourself.'

The move comes as Labour peer Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill, which
says terminally-ill patients must make a 'voluntary' and 'informed' decision
to end their lives before they can be helped to do so, faces further debate
in the House of Lords. Art critic Brian Sewell, wrote two years ago that he
would be prepared to take his own life if he became very ill said: 'One of
the most unchristian things a church can do is to refuse a proper burial to
those that commit suicide. It is one of those petty issues that date back
centuries.' Under centuries-old Church rules, it is technically illegal for
clergy to bury those who have 'laid violent hands' upon themselves,
particularly while of 'sound mind', although in reality the law is almost
universally ignored. 

The Church of England's General Synod is expected to call for Canon law to
be reformed so that clergy who bury those who have taken their own life are
no longer in breach of the law. The vast majority of the Synod is expected
to support the proposed reforms. Leading the calls for reform, Canon Michael
Parsons said many clergy were not even aware of what was an outdated law and
were mainly concerned to treat the relatives and friends of the deceased
with sensitivity. Canon Parsons said the change would bring the Church into
line with what was now common practice and would help shed lingering
perceptions that clergy were 'hostile' to those who feel compelled to take
their own lives.

One Briton a fortnight is now believed to end his or her life at the
Dignitas clinic and for every one that travels abroad, ten terminally ill
people are thought to take their lives in Britain itself, according to
supporters of the legislation. But former Government Minister Lord Tebbit, a
vocal opponent of assisted suicide, said that by changing its laws the
Church might suggest it had diluted its principles. He said: 'The Church is
in danger of getting into a muddle because we can take a merciful view of
people who kill themselves while the balance of their mind is disturbed.
'But we are now looking at cases in which people who appear to be quite sane
want to take their own lives. The Church should think again.'

Source: Intercessors Network

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WASHINGTON'S MARCH FOR MARRIAGE DRAWS THOUSANDS, MOSTLY BLACK AND HISPANIC


It may not be as popular as the March for Life yet, but the energy at the
third annual March for Marriage was undeniable. With speakers invoking God,
religious liberty, and the future of America in both Spanish and English the
mostly Hispanic and black crowd was prepared to make sure the media and the
Supreme Court knew the marriage battle isn't over. Attendance estimates
ranged from 5,000 to 10,000. The event was organized by the National
Organization for Marriage. The religious overtones of the event were clear.
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, said that America should turn from a
"new and arbitrary definition of marriage," and sanctions should not exist
for business owners and others who oppose same-sex relationships.

"There must be room in the public square for the sacrificial love that a
mother and a father share with their children," said Lori. He wasn't the
only prominent Catholic in attendance. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the
Vatican's U.S. ambassador, did not speak, but was honoured by a mention on
the podium. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops, also attended. Numerous evangelical leaders called upon
America to care for its future by not legally changing the definition of
marriage. Pastor Jim Garlow of San Diego said "You mess with the definition
of marriage and  you cannot win," he said. "Your arms are too short to box
with God. In 50 years they will laugh at you just like they'll laugh at
same-sex marriage."

Source: Intercessors for America

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OKLAHOMA PASSES BILL THAT SHIELDS PASTORS FROM PERFORMING SAME-SEX WEDDINGS


The Oklahoma House and Senate have passed a religious freedom bill to
protect the rights of clergy. The legislation says pastors and others who
perform weddings cannot be forced to perform same-sex ceremonies if that
violates their religious beliefs. The measure also shields churches from
being required to participate in any same-sex weddings. The Oklahoma House
voted 87-8 for the bill, while a nearly identical bill passed the state
Senate on a 38-5 vote. All opposing votes came from Democrats.

Source: CBN News

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