- 2019Sep 16
Hundreds of people gathered in Orlando over the weekend for the Freedom March, an event featuring men and women who say Jesus delivered them from the LGBT lifestyle.
According to the Christian Post, the men and women call themselves “overcomers.”
More than 400 people marched at the event, shouting as they walked, “Freedom in Christ. It’s so nice” and “When I say Jesus, you say freedom.”
Churches and local ministries also set up booths and tents at the Lake Eola Park event to support the Freedom March.
The march was organized by Angel Colon and Luis Javier Ruiz, both men who survived the shooting at the Orlando nightclub, Pulse, in 2016. Since the shooting, both men abandoned homosexuality and started a ministry called Fearless Identity.
Fearless Identity helps churches as they try to share God’s word with the LGBT community.
“It’s not a gay to straight thing, it’s a lost to saved thing,” Ruiz said.
Many of the event’s leaders had abandoned an LGBT lifestyle. The event’s worship leader, Edward Byrd, shared that he formerly identified as androgynous before he became a Christian. The Freedom March’s founder, Jeffrey Mccall, said he was a former transgender prostitute. The Uprooted Heart founder, MJ Nixon, who baptized people at the event, said she was a former lesbian.
The event also included a moment of silence for the 49 people killed in the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub.
Speakers told attendees that God “loves gay people,” but to change your lifestyle, you first have to follow Jesus.
“God wants all your heart, not just your sexuality,” Ruiz said. “Remember, don’t make freedom your god. Make Christ Jesus your freedom.”
The first Freedom March took place in May in Washington, D.C. The group will head to Georgia in October for another March and is planning another visit to Washington, D.C. in May 2020.
Photo courtesy: Markus Spiske/Unsplash
- 2019Sep 16
(RNS) — Duke University’s student government has denied the Christian organization Young Life official status as a student group on campus, citing its policy on sexuality.
The decision by the Duke Student Government Senate on Wednesday (Sept. 11) comes amid ongoing clashes nationwide between religious student groups and colleges and universities that have added more robust nondiscrimination policies.
Young Life, like many evangelical groups, regards same-sex relations as sinful. Its policy forbids LGBTQ staff and volunteers from holding positions in the organization.
The student newspaper the Duke Chronicle reported Thursday that the student government senate unanimously turned down official recognition for the Young Life chapter, because it appeared to violate a guideline that every Duke student group include a nondiscrimination statement in its constitution.
Young Life, which is based in Colorado Springs, is a 78-year-old organization with a mission to introduce adolescents to Christianity and help them grow in their faith. It has chapters in middle schools, high schools and colleges in all 50 states and more than 90 countries around the world.
But the student government objected to a clause in Young Life’s sexuality policy. After the student government was told the organization would not change its sexuality policy, it rejected the group.
The Young Life policy states: “We do not in any way wish to exclude persons who engage in sexual misconduct or who practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients of ministry of God’s grace and mercy as expressed in Jesus Christ. We do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life.”
Over the past two decades, many colleges and universities have attempted to exclude religious groups because of their positions on sexuality, among them InterVarsity and Business Leaders in Christ.
Greg Jao, senior assistant to the president at InterVarsity, said about 70 colleges and universities have attempted to exclude InterVarsity chapters over the years — in some cases because it bars LGBTQ employees, in others because its faith statement more generally violates school nondiscrimination policies.
In most cases, the issues are resolved, but others have ended up in court. InterVarsity is now suing the University of Iowa and Wayne State University.
“Most of the time universities back down because it’s a violation of students’ First Amendment rights,” said Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a law firm that defends religious freedom cases.
Duke, however, may be in a different category as a private institution. Private universities don’t have the same obligations under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause that a government entity does.
Young Life did not immediately respond to media requests for comment.
READ THIS STORY AT: RELIGIONNEWS.COM.
Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.
Photo courtesy: RNS/Creative Commons
- 2019Sep 13
Ten Democratic presidential candidates took to the debate stage Thursday in Houston for the ABC News Democratic Debate.
Here are five major highlights of the evening:
The Healthcare Divide
As expected, Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren faced off on healthcare. Biden has said he would like to build on former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act.
“I know that the senator says she’s for Bernie. Well, I’m for Barack. I think Obamacare worked,” Biden said. “This is about candor, honesty, big ideas.”
Warren, meanwhile, has supported a “Medicare for All” plan, which has also been supported by Bernie Sanders. The plan would end private insurance and Americans would enroll in a government healthcare program.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg says he wants to let voters choose a Medicare-like plan that he calls “Medicare for all who want it,” and Beto O’Rourke calls his public-option plan “Medicare for America.”
Castro vs. Biden
While many expected Biden and Warren to clash Thursday night, it was Julian Castro, a former member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, who took aim at Biden.
He accused Biden of "forgetting what you said two minutes ago" during a discussion over whether Biden's health care plan would require Americans who opt for the plan would have to buy into it.
Later he added: "I'm fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama and you are not."
Beto Calls for Gun Control
O’Rourke is drawing praise for his debate performance in his home state of Texas. In a discussion on guns, O’Rourke said he would support a mandatory buyback of assault-style firearms.
"Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore," he said.
O’Rourke is from El Paso, the Texas town where a gunman killed 22 people in a shooting at Walmart last month.
On Trump, O’Rourke said: “We have a white supremacist in the White House and he poses a mortal threat to people of color across this country.”
Buttigieg Shares His Story
Pete Buttigieg shared his personal story of coming out under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
“I had no idea what kind of professional setback it would be, especially because inconveniently, it was an election year in my socially conservative community,” he continued. “What happened was that when I trusted voters to judge me based on the job that I did for them, they decided to trust me and re-elected me with 80% of the vote. And what I learned was that trust can be reciprocated, and that part of how you can win and deserve to win is to know what's worth more to you than winning.”
Buttigieg is the first openly gay person to run for president.
What Wasn’t Talked about
While voters said in a CNN poll that aggressive climate change action is a top priority, candidates only talked about climate change for seven minutes.
Likewise, candidates did not answer any abortion-specific questions during the debate.
And finally, there were no questions about the federal courts, where President Donald Trump has already appointed some 125 judges.
Watch the debate here:
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Win McNamee/Staff
Video courtesy: ABC News