Christian Schools Fight Back, Say LGBT Suit Would Strip Students of ‘Much-Needed Financial Aid’

Christian Schools Fight Back, Say LGBT Suit Would Strip Students of ‘Much-Needed Financial Aid’


A trio of Christian schools is attempting to intervene in a high-profile federal lawsuit filed last month by 33 LGBT students. The suit seeks to force the nation’s faith-based colleges, universities and seminaries to recognize gender identity and sexual orientation as normal.

On Friday, Alliance Defending Freedom asked a federal court in Oregon to allow three Christian post-secondary schools – Corban University, William Jessup University and Phoenix Seminary – to intervene as defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks to declare the religious exemption in Title IX unconstitutional.

Under current federal rules, religious institutions are exempt from Title IX, a 1972 law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education programs and activities. Although the Trump administration argued that Title IX does not apply to sexual orientation and gender identity, the Biden administration has claimed it does.

The students’ suit asks the court to require the federal government to “enforce the protections of Title IX at all taxpayer-funded educational institutions, including at those institutions that discriminate and cause harm on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.” It was filed by the Religious Exemption Accountability Project, an organization backed by LGBT groups.

“The U.S. Department of Education is duty-bound by Title IX and the U.S. Constitution to protect sexual and gender minority students at taxpayer-funded colleges and universities, including private and religious educational institutions that receive federal funding,” the LGBT suit says.

But the trio of Christian institutions asserts that the court “should not assess the constitutionality of the Religious Exemption without hearing” from the “very religious educational institutions that the exemption was designed to protect.”

The school’s motion to intervene says a victory for the LGBT groups would harm not only the institutions but also the students who rely on federal funding to attend Christian schools.

“If Religious Schools were no longer eligible for a religious exemption under Title IX, the loss of enrollment and federal funding would severely threaten their institutions and limit their students’ ability to attend the school of their choice,” the motion says.

Further, a victory by LGBT groups in the lawsuit would force the Christian institutions to “choose between violating their religious convictions and foregoing religious speech about important issues like sex, gender, anthropology, marriage, and sexual morality,” and “losing critical federal funding for their institutions and students,” the motion says.

“That not only violates the express text of Title IX and Congress’ intent, but it also violates Religious Schools’ rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA),” the motion says.

The motion says a change in the law would impact what is said and taught in the chapel, in the classroom, and in counseling – “all of which encourage students to live consistently with Biblical views on marriage and human sexuality, to reserve sexual activity for marriage between a man and a woman, and to live consistently with the biological sex they received as a gift from God.”

No existing parties “adequately represent Religious Schools’ interests,” the motion says. That’s because the Biden Department of Education “will likely take the position in this case” that “Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

ADF senior counsel Ryan Tucker said the case needs the voice of religious schools.

“Targeting religious schools hurts the students and families who desire to pursue their education in places that share their faith and values,” Tucker said. “These schools should be allowed to defend their and their students’ long-recognized freedoms under federal law and the First Amendment.”

Related:

LGBT Students Ask Court to Overturn the Gov’ts ‘Religious Exemption’ for Christian Schools

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/ADragan 


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Christian Nurses Attacked, Arrested under Blasphemy Law in Pakistan

Christian Nurses Attacked, Arrested under Blasphemy Law in Pakistan


LAHORE, Pakistan, April 12, 2021 (Morning Star News) – Two Christian nurses complying with a supervisor’s orders to remove stickers at a government hospital were arrested in Faisalabad, Pakistan on Friday (April 9) after a Muslim employee attacked one of them with a knife for the removal of a sticker bearing Koranic verses, sources said.

Nurse Mariam Lal and student nurse Navish Arooj were charged under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes against “defiling the Koran” after an Islamist mob demanded “death to blasphemers” inside Civil Hospital, their attorney said. Conviction under Section 295-B is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine.

The two Roman Catholic nurses were sent to jail in judicial custody on Friday night (April 9) for their security, according to police. Their families have gone into hiding out of fear of Islamist mobs.

A Muslim co-worker attacked Lal, according to cell phone video recorded by an unidentified hospital employee showing the co-worker, identified only as Waqas, telling a group he attacked her with a knife. He is shown saying he saw Lal ask Arooj to tear off a sticker inscribed with the Durood Sharif, an exaltation prayer used for Prophet Muhammad, from a wall cabinet.

“I could not remain silent over blasphemy of our holy prophet, so I attacked Mariam,” Waqas tells the group, who during the recording shout slogans praising Muhammad and call for the hanging of the two women. “The prophet’s respect is more precious than my life or yours.”

Attorney Akmal Bhatti, chairman of the Minorities Alliance of Pakistan, said from Faisalabad that Lal, a single parent to a teenage daughter, and Arooj, engaged to be married in two weeks, work in the psychiatric ward of the hospital.

“According to Mariam’s statement, a senior nurse had directed her on Thursday evening to remove all old wall hangings and stickers, some of them inscribed with Koranic verses. She said a sticker on a cabinet was already half torn off by some patient when Navish removed it,” Bhatti told Morning Star News. “Mariam said she and Navish were simply following the directives when a nurse made an issue over the torn sticker, reportedly over a personal grudge.”

The matter was seemingly settled after the two Christians assured co-workers that they had no ill intentions and left the hospital after ending their duty, he said.

“On Friday morning, someone again instigated the staff, and they attacked the two women,” Bhatti said, adding that it was clear that both women had been framed in a false case. Sources said a Muslim nurse with help from Waqas instigated staff members against the two women.

Bhatti said that when word of the incident spread, an enraged mob including members of the Muslim extremist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) converged on the hospital, raising fears for the security of the two women and other Christian workers.

“Fortunately, a large police contingent arrived just in time to take the two women into custody safely,” he said. “We pleaded for the police not to register the FIR [First Information Report] before thoroughly investigating the allegation, but they succumbed to the pressure of the mob.”

Second Hospital Case

Church leaders and rights activists have appealed to the government to ensure fair investigation as panic spread among Christian medical workers in Faisalabad.

The blasphemy accusations against the two women comes after Tabeeta Gill, a nurse at a Karachi hospital and a gospel singer, was slapped, beaten and locked in a room by a violent mob on Jan. 28 after a Muslim co-worker baselessly accused her of blaspheming Islam.

Police initially cleared her of denigrating Muhammad but later succumbed to pressure of an Islamist mob that converged on their station and charged her with insulting Muhammad, punishable by death under Section 295-C.

Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, the prime minister’s special representative on religious affairs, that he had taken notice of the case and would ensure a fair investigation.

“It’s true that our blasphemy laws are often misused to settle personal scores, but we are making efforts to bring legislation in this regard,” Ashrafi told Morning Star News. “The government will not allow any person to take the law into their own hands by using the religion card.”

False accusations of blaspheming Islam in Pakistan are common, often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. The highly inflammatory accusations have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders and mass protests. Currently, 24 Christians are in prison due to blasphemy charges. They are defendants in 21 blasphemy cases at various levels of the judicial process.

The government’s failure to curb the misuse of the blasphemy laws is emboldening false accusers, rights activists and church leaders say.

A Senate Special Committee on Human Rights and the Islamabad High Court in 2018 recommended that those making false blasphemy accusations be given the same punishments as those convicted of blasphemy, but the government dismissed the recommendation. It stated that anyone registering a blasphemy case at a police station must bring two witnesses.

While punishment for blasphemy ranges from several years in prison to death in Pakistan, a person making a false accusation faces potential punishment of only six months in prison or a fine of 1,000 rupees (US$6). Successive governments have acknowledged that the blasphemy laws are blatantly misused, but little effort has been made to stop the abuses.

Rights activists say it’s unlikely that any government will move to repeal or amend the blasphemy laws due to fierce Islamist sentiments in the Muslim-majority country. They say Pakistani authorities must be urged to immediately implement effective procedural and institutional safeguards at the investigative, prosecutorial and judicial levels to prevent abuse of these laws.

The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 re-designated Pakistan among nine other “Countries of Particular Concern” for severe violations of religious freedom. Previously Pakistan had been added to the list on Nov. 28, 2018.

Pakistan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors 2021 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: Muneer Ahmed Ok/Unsplash

The Death of Prince Philip: Continuing the Case for Christian Optimism

The Death of Prince Philip: Continuing the Case for Christian Optimism


Buckingham Palace announced Friday that Prince Philip had died at the age of ninety-nine.

His story is truly remarkable. He was born on the Greek island of Corfu, the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. His uncle, King Constantine I of Greece, was forced to abdicate the throne in 1922. The family fled just ahead of a riotous mob, smuggling the eighteen-month-old prince out of Greece in an orange crate they converted into a makeshift crib.

Philip and the future Queen Elizabeth II first met as children at the wedding of his cousin in 1934. They met again at Dartmouth Royal Naval College and began corresponding while he served in the Mediterranean and Pacific Fleets during World War II.

The two were married when she turned twenty-one. He served his adopted country for more than seventy-five years. By the time of his death, he had undertaken 22,191 solo engagements, delivered 5,493 speeches, and served as the patron of 800 charitable organizations.

The queen has described being left with a “huge void in her life” after his death, their son Andrew said yesterday. Prince Philip’s funeral is planned for next Saturday at Windsor Castle. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremony will be limited to thirty mourners with no public processions or viewings.

“Did not our hearts burn within us?”

I have been an Anglophile for many years. I have visited Westminster Abbey numerous times, the church where Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth were married in 1947. I have visited their homes at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. I have even watched every episode of every season of The Crown. But I never had the privilege of knowing Prince Philip personally.

The same can happen for us with Jesus. Two people who met the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus knew all about him—that he was “a prophet mighty in deed and word” (Luke 24:19), that he had been crucified (v. 20), and that many had hoped he would be their Messiah (v. 21). They had even heard the report that he was alive (v. 23). However, they did not know him (v. 16).

But when Jesus “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (v. 27) and led them in prayer and worship (v. 30), “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him” (v. 31). Then they told each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (v. 32).

Their story is in God’s word because it can be our story. It is possible to know Jesus in the same way I knew Prince Philip—familiar with the facts of his life and respectful of his influence in the world. But knowing about someone is not the same as knowing them.

Do you remember a time when you asked Jesus to forgive your sins and become your Savior and Lord? That was the time you established a personal, saving relationship with him. If you don’t remember making such a commitment, I urge you to do so today. (For more, please see my website article, “Why Jesus?“)

If you have established a personal relationship with Jesus, how would he describe that relationship today? To draw closer to him, do what these two did: listen to him in his word and meet with him in worship. Ask his Spirit to show you anything that is blocking your relationship with him and confess what comes to your thoughts. Then ask Jesus to make himself more real to you than ever before, knowing that he wants such intimacy with you even more than you do with him.

“The Bible says to take strength from weakness”

Last Friday, I offered a case for Christian optimism based on the fact that none of us knows when our Lord will return. If we give up on our culture, our pessimism will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As a result, we must believe, pray, and work for the spiritual awakening our culture so desperately needs while leaving the results and the timing of God’s judgment to him.

Today, let’s add this fact: All that Jesus has ever done, he can still do. As a result, all that his followers have ever done, his followers can still do.

If Jesus could transform Peter from a despondent failure into the preacher of Pentecost, he can transform any life. If his followers, empowered by his Spirit, “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6 KJV), we can do the same.

The chaplain of the House of Representatives recently followed the example of the apostles before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:29-32). When the House approved a coronavirus relief package almost entirely on party lines, she prayed in their presence: “Forgive them, all of them. For when called upon to respond to a once-in-a-century pandemic that has rocked our country, upended its economy and widened the chasm of partisan opinion, they have missed the opportunity to step above the fray and unite to attend to this national crisis.”

A street preacher in Brazil has been following the apostolic example in praying for the sick with passion and compassion (cf. Acts 9:36-41; 28:7-9). He is leading his people in ministry to COVID-19 patients by standing outside their hospitals while lifting their voices in worship and intercession. “The Bible says to take strength from weakness,” he explains. “We sing and pray because our voice can bring assurance of the love of God to those taking their last breaths.” 

A predominantly white congregation in St. Louis recently followed the inclusive example of early Christians (cf. Galatians 3:28). After his church made a $100,000 contribution to a predominantly Black congregation, the pastor explained: “Any time you begin to do life together with somebody who’s different than you, you get different perspectives. You get different histories and you begin to create a shared history together.”

Joining Jesus on the way to Emmaus

The best way to convince a skeptical culture that Christ is relevant to our challenges is for Christians to be relevant to our challenges. The best way for Christians to be relevant to others is for Christ to be relevant to us.

I invite you to join Jesus on the road to Emmaus today. Listen to his voice in his word; spend time with him in worship; ask him to make himself real to you and then through you.

A case for Christian optimism rests on the fact that Christ is as fully alive and as powerfully active today as when he first walked our planet. William Carey, the father of the modern missions movement, was therefore right when he encouraged his followers to “expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

Let’s do both today, to the glory of God.

NOTE: I have been a Christian since 1973, but it was many years later that I came to understand the purpose behind my creation and conversion. I was not made by God to work for him, but to walk with him. This is why I wrote my latest book, Every Hour I Need Thee: A Practical Guide to Daily Prayer. This new resource is to thank you for your donation to help more believers discern the news differently—and create more culture-changing Christians. So please request your copy today when you give. It’s my prayer that God uses this resource to help you walk in greater intimacy with him.

Publication date: April 12, 2021

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/WPA/Pool

For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

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Interview: Interview: Why Sarah Macintosh Ran Away from CCM and Went Back

A decade ago, Sarah Macintosh essentially ran away from the Christian music industry, putting as much distance between herself and Nashville as possible—fleeing all the way to California. Her band, Chasing Furies, had been with Sparrow Records, and despite critical acclaim, they never took off. Discouraged and confused, she asked Sparrow to release her from their contract, and the label graciously agreed.

Fast forward to the present—or, more precisely, the Current, the title of the new album that Macintosh releases today. And now, catch the irony: She’s back in Nashville, and even back on a CCM label—this time, Integrity Music, known for their worship catalogue. Macintosh is the first to grasp the irony: “It’s crazy, isn’t it?”

We recently chatted with Macintosh, 35, about her journey—what got her from here to there and back again, as Bilbo Baggins might have said—her new album, and some of the inspiration behind it.

When Chasing Furies didn’t pan out, that must have been frustrating.

Yeah. When we signed with Sparrow, we didn’t know anything about the Christian music industry, so it never even entered our minds that we might not be accepted. I thought as long as you were a Christian, it would totally just be accepted. But after a few months in, we could tell that it wasn’t going well. It was hard work, on the road over 250 days out of the year, working and touring and trying to get some kind of traction.

So what happened next?

I was confused, a bit sad and maybe a bit disillusioned. I sat down with [Sparrow chief] Peter York and said, “I feel like I don’t belong in Christian music. Would you allow me to leave Sparrow?” And he totally understood. Sparrow was kind of reeling at the time, because they …

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