Welcome to Higher Ground, the faith-centric newsletter focused on the intersection of culture and politics from experienced journalists at The Washington Times.
Congress moves to define marriage
The Senate on Wednesday set the stage for passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would codify same-sex marriages and interracial unions into federal law. Backers say they feared the conservative-majority Supreme Court could overturn the 2015 Obergefell decision allowing gay marriage, after the high court’s June reversal of Roe v. Wade’s national legalization of abortion.
A key factor allowing the legislation to overcome Republican opposition and win the 60 votes needed in the test vote (it advanced 62-37) is a carveout for nonprofit religious organizations to not participate. Several religious communities, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more popularly known as the Mormons, threw their support behind the legislation. The LDS Church on Tuesday said it would support the bill because of the new religious freedom protections. However, many Republicans say the exemption doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t shield businesses as well.
Once the bill is passed by the Senate, it will return to the House for a vote on the amended version. The original Respect for Marriage Act passed the House in July.
Religious Americans have doubts about climate change
Americans who are considered “highly religious” — those who attend church at least once a week, pray daily and say faith is an important part of their lives — say they’re concerned about the environment and protecting the planet, a new study from the Pew Research Center revealed.
But those same people are less likely to say they believe human-caused climate change is a problem, the researchers found. That view is derived more from politics than pulpiteering, according to the survey, not least because most congregations don’t hear regular messages about environmental stewardship.
E. Calvin Beisner, president of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, argues that many climate skeptical arguments are based in science, not politics. He also said those advocating restrictions to fend off global warming have their own political agendas.
Judge orders praying coach back to job
Coach Joseph Kennedy, the Bremerton, Washington, high school football coach who lost his job for praying on the 50-yard line after games, is getting his job backunder a federal judge’s order. The ruling comes months after the Supreme Court ruled Mr. Kennedy’s school district violated his First Amendment rights.
“Bremerton School District cannot retaliate against or take any future adverse employment action against Kennedy,” District Judge Robert S. Lasnik wrote in the order reinstating the coach.
The order — which the school district said it will “fully comply with” — caps a seven-year battle over the postgame prayers. The school district had failed to renew his contract, claiming his role as an employee and the public setting of the games made some students and parents uncomfortable.
Religious freedom under attack
Religious freedom is an essential human right, speakers at a conference in South Korea said recently. But it’s a right that is under attack, experts said.
The Chinese Communist Party is “at war with all faiths,” according to former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, who said America and its democratic allies must “stand firmly” in promoting religious freedom as a “common human right.”
Speakers called out the full range of religious persecution by authoritarian governments, shining a light on the plight of Tibetan Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Bahais, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yazidis and Falun Gong followers.
The conference, sponsored in part by The Washington Times Foundation, also drew attention to “unjustified persecution” of members of the Unification Church in Japan, where controversy has flared in the wake of the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe by someone who had a personal grievance with the church.
Opinion: TV star ripped for standing behind her faith
It’s not enough to accept people as they are, Billy Hallowell writes in our opinion section this week, but alternative lifestyles must have your unfettered endorsement, or else.
Just ask actress Candace Cameron Bure, a former star of “Full House” and dozens of Hallmark Channel movies. She made a switch to the Great American Family TV network, becoming chief creative officer, after years on Hallmark.
When she told The Wall Street Journal that the new channel “will keep traditional marriage at the core,” a firestorm broke out.
As Billy put it, “What’s perhaps most disturbing about the horrific, mob-like mentality that drives anger in these moments is that it has little regard for a basic reality: Good people will disagree. And we can learn a lot about others and ourselves when we understand this reality and learn to elevate grace above all else.”
That wraps up this week’s Higher Ground. Read The Washington Times for more daily headlines.
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