AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER
FIRED FOR PREACHING – GEORGIA DUMPS DOCTOR OVER CHURCH SERMONS
Dr. Eric Walsh, a renowned public health expert who also serves as a lay minister, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Public Health alleging he was terminated for delivering sermons on issues ranging from homosexuality to evolution. “No one in this country should be fired from their job for something that was said in a church or from a pulpit during a sermon,” said First Liberty attorney Jeremy Dys. First Liberty, one of the nation’s largest law firms defending religious liberty, is representing the Seventh Day Adventist lay minister. They contend that the Georgia Department of Public Health assigned workers to investigate sermons Dr. Walsh delivered on health, marriage, sexuality, world religions, science and creationism. He also preached on what the Bible says about homosexuality.
“He was fired for something he said in a sermon,” Dys told me. “If the government is allowed to fire someone over what he said in his sermons, they can come after any of us for our beliefs on anything.” First Liberty has accused the government agency of religious discrimination and retaliation. “I don’t believe I did anything wrong,” Dr. Walsh said. “This has been very painful for me. I really am a strong Believer in the Constitution. But now I feel like maybe all these ideals and values that I was raised to believe-the ideals the country was founded upon-no longer exist.” A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) did not return telephone calls nor did they respond to email inquiries.
First Liberty said Walsh was hired as a district health director on May 7, 2014. A few days later, DPH officers and other government workers began investigating his religious activities. “DPH officers and other employees spent hours reviewing these and other of Dr. Walsh’s sermons and other public addresses available online, analysing and taking notes on his religious beliefs and viewpoints on social, cultural and other matters of public concern as expressed in the sermons and other public addresses,” the lawsuit states. The behaviour of the DPH was so egregious that its own counsel twice warned them on May 15 that “under federal law Dr. Walsh’s religious beliefs could play no role in any employment decision by DPH.”
But on May 16, the DPH announced it had rescinded the job offer that Dr. Walsh had already accepted. “The action by the department follows a thorough examination of Dr. Walsh’s credentials and background and after consultation with the six local boards of health which comprise the district,” spokesman Ryan Deal said in a news release. The Georgia Voice newspaper reported that the Health Initiative, an Atlanta-based group committed to LGBT health issues, was also strongly opposed to Walsh’s hiring. “Dr. Walsh’s public displays of anti-gay propaganda and religious rhetoric will further isolate an already vulnerable population. We believe his hiring is detrimental to the wellbeing of our community, and to the effectiveness of the Department in conducting outreach to LGBT Georgians,” Executive Director Ellis said.
Based on documents First Liberty obtained, it is clear there was some internal concerns about how Dr. Walsh had been treated. In spite of the DPH’s internal witch hunt against Dr. Walsh, at least one unnamed staffer wrote a memo warning that the entire controversy had been blown “impossibly out of proportion. Not only is there no smoking gun, there is every reason to believe, even from his detractors own words, that he is the excellent health director we believed he would be,” the staffer wrote in the document. “If we do not hire this applicant on the basis of the evidence of job performance and disqualify him on the basis of discrimination by those seeking to advance their own agenda, we are no better than they are,” the staffer concluded. The staffer’s concerns were ignored and Dr. Walsh was terminated.
Dr. Walsh was catapulted into the national spotlight earlier in 2014 when he was invited to deliver the commencement address at Pasadena City College in California. Walsh, who was then the director of the city’s public health department, came under fierce scrutiny from LGBT activists and students. He backed out of the speaking engagement. But critics persisted and he was forced to resign his post-after reaching a financial settlement with the city. What happened to Dr. Walsh should give every American the chills. “The idea of those government employees dividing up the sermons is unthinkable,” he said. “Religious liberty means we should be able to find sanctuary in our own sanctuary.”
In recent days, the state of Georgia has become a battleground over religious liberty. Governor Nathan Deal, a Republican, vetoed legislation that would have provided protection for pastors and other faith-based organizations from attacks by LGBT activists. The veto was levied under fierce pressure from big business bullies like Disney and Coca-Cola. It’s unclear whether such a law would have protected Dr. Walsh. “Any law a state passes that helps protect religious liberty-especially a law that allows pastors the right to preach and not lose their jobs-is a law we would certainly apply in this case,” Dys said. It’s becoming clear to me that people of faith-people like Dr. Walsh-will not find safe refuge in the state of Georgia. First, they silenced the sheep-and now they are trying to silence the shepherds.
Source: Fox News
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UK CHRISTIANS OUTRAGED THAT GOVERNMENT PLANS TO INSPECT CHURCH YOUTH PROGRAMS
Christian charities CARE, Christian Concern, Evangelical Alliance, Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship and The Christian Institute recently issued a joint statement and a call to action over Government proposals to register and inspect church youth work. The statement reads: “Requiring churches in England to register before they are legally allowed to help children learn the Christian values our nation was built on is an unjustified restriction of religious liberty. Whether the threshold is 6 hours in any week or higher, the principle of outlawing ‘unregistered churches’ from teaching children the Gospel is an unacceptable overreach of the state. “The Government says the Office for Standards and Education (Ofsted) will only inspect churches for ‘British values’ compliance if there is a complaint.
However, the scope for vexatious complaints is considerable, especially in the current climate of aggressive secularism and religious illiteracy. The experience of some Christian schools is that inspectors themselves can be ignorant of or hostile to Christian beliefs and practices. “We do not believe Ofsted should become the state regulator of religion. For an inspector to scrutinize a Sunday School class, Bible study, youth meeting or church weekend away would be highly intrusive. The prospect of inspectors questioning volunteer leaders and children (without their parents) is an unwarranted incursion into private religion and family life. “Christians are peace-loving, law-abiding citizens who respect authority and love their neighbours. They are a major source of volunteering, and represent the best of ‘British values’.
To require such people to submit to registration and inspection to ensure they are not encouraging terrorism is profoundly misconceived. “Whilst Christians wholeheartedly support reasonable measures to prevent terrorism and violent extremism, these proposals will lead to a loss of civil liberties and create a large bureaucracy that will divert resources away from restraining extremists who reject UK law. Such individuals will simply ignore or effortlessly circumvent the registration requirements. We urge the government to drop these proposals and develop a targeted, intelligence-led approach that will genuinely inhibit the activities of violent extremists.”
It concludes with the following urgent call to action: “We call on Christians, churches and affected organizations in England to contact their MPs and urge them to oppose these plans.” CARE Chief Executive Nola Leach said: “The Government’s plan to empower Ofsted to inspect Sunday Schools and other church activities is simply not the best way to tackle the radicalization of young people. It is an unwarranted undermining of religious freedom. We support tackling extremism, but not in this overly broad manner.” Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, added: “Christians teaching Biblical truth should not be looked upon as if they are somehow doing something so awful that the State needs to be constantly looking over their shoulder. Christians are not terrorists and should not be treated as if they are.”
The Evangelical Alliance’s Head of Public Policy, Simon McCrossan, said: “These proposals amount to the nationalization of youth work and the state regulation of private religious practice.’ If implemented, churches could step back from the valuable services they currently provide to young people.” Mark Jones, Chairman of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, said: “We condemn violence and terrorism but have grave concerns about the proposals, which may place the UK in breach of its international human rights obligations.” And Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, added: “Christians are justifiably alarmed at the prospect of Ofsted conducting inspections of church youth work. The freedom to proclaim the Gospel, and our wider civil liberties, must be protected, not undermined in the name of ‘counter-extremism.'”
Source: Premier News Service
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THOUSANDS GATHER FOR REVIVAL IN THE HEART OF EGYPT DESPITE THREATS
Despite the threat of street unrest, thousands of people went to hear Dr. Michael Youssef preach at Kasr el Dobara Church in Cairo recently, with at least 500 people giving their lives to Christ during the three-day event. Dr. Youssef, founder of global outreach ministry Leading The Way, was born in Egypt, and returned to the largest evangelical church in Egypt, with the hope of encouraging a spiritual renewal there. During the first evening, a heavy military presence was outside the church bracing themselves for protests in Tahrir Square against the government. However, throughout the weekend, approximately 5,000 people still came to hear Dr. Youssef preach a Gospel message of victory over sin and addiction, with millions more watching live via satellite television.
“Over the last five years, the people of Egypt have seen extreme civil unrest in their country,” Dr. Youssef said. “Since 2011, the nation has endured the bloody uprisings of the Arab Spring and two presidents overthrown. This church-and many more across Egypt-began crying out to God 24 hours a day to bring peace and justice to their nation. In many ways, God answered their prayers. “By God’s grace, I pray this event will fan the flame of spiritual revival that is already occurring in this region.” As “Leading The Way” with Dr. Michael Youssef continues to reach the Muslim world for Christ through 24/7 Biblical programming, personal discipleship, and practical help for persecuted Christians in the region, many are responding to the Gospel message even in the midst of political upheaval and global crises.
Source: Assist News
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UTAH GOVERNOR SIGNS MEASURE DECLARING PORNOGRAPHY A PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD
In an unprecedented move, Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert will sign two measures declaring pornography a “public health hazard” and promise to combat the “sexually toxic environment” it creates. Herbert is expected to make one resolution and one bill law this week after the measures passed the state’s legislature earlier this year … It cites “detrimental effects” on XXX users including biological addiction, changes in brain development, emotional illnesses and difficulty maintaining relationships. The resolution also says pornography “equates violence toward women and children with sex and pain with pleasure, which increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, child sexual abuse images, and child pornography.”
USA Today notes that the resolution was introduced by Republican state Senator Todd Weiler in January 2015, to battle the “pornography epidemic harming” the state and the country; a Harvard Business School professor’s
2009 study found that Utah state was the No. 1 buyer of adult films. Jon Cox, spokesman for the Republican governor, said the point of the resolution is to raise awareness and education. “We want Utah youths to understand the addictive habits” of porn that are “harmful to our society.” The move has been praised by a number of groups, including the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, who on its Facebook page encouraged people to head to the Capitol and “celebrate and recognize this historic moment!”
Source: The Gospel Herald
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