Filipino bishops urge bell-ringing, prayers to protest bloody drugs war

A sign is posted outside a Catholic church which translates to "Let us pray for the victims of extrajudicial killings, bells will toll at 8:00pm" in Quezon City, metro Manila, Philippines September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao

By Manuel Mogato

MANILA (Reuters) – Stepping up a campaign against President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, Catholic bishops in the Philippines have called for church bells to be rung for the next 40 nights, and congregations to light candles and pray for the killing to end.

A pastoral letter by Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) sent to priests urged Catholics to pray for victims from Saturday until All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1, when Filipinos traditionally pay respects to the dead.

More than 3,800 people have been killed in anti-drugs operations in the past 15 months and at least 2,100 murders are suspected of being drug-related, according to police data, though human rights groups believe the numbers are understated.

“The relentless and bloody campaign against drugs that shows no sign of abating impels us, your bishops, to declare: In the name of God, stop the killings!” Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the head of the CBCP, said in the letter.

Such messages are typically read aloud in church or distributed to their congregations.

Many Catholic churches in the capital have already started lighting candles and ringing bells for five minutes each day at 8 p.m..

Thousands of Filipinos rallied against Duterte on Thursday to protest against what they fear is an emerging dictatorship, and several churches held mass against the killings and urged people to renounce violence.

The bishops are among the most influential dissenting voices to come out against the Duterte’s uncompromising strategy.

Having been largely silent on the issue when it first erupted last year, priests have increasingly taken a stand against the anti-drugs campaign.

As bodies started to appear nightly in Manila’s slums, the church stepped up its opposition, denouncing the killings and in some cases, providing sanctuary to witnesses of killings and drug users who feared they could be targeted.

Villegas said the country’s bishops were firmly against drugs, but killing was not the solution and prayer was “the most powerful weapon in our arsenal”.

Rights groups dispute official police accounts that say drug suspects were killed because they violently resisted arrest. Critics accuse police of executing users and small-time dealers and planting evidence, which police reject.

Pablo Virgilio David, bishop in Manila’s Caloocan City, where large numbers of drug-related killings have taken place, urged the authorities to end the killings and let healing begin.

“We disagree that we should treat them like monsters to be eliminated like stray cats and dogs,” he said of drug users and criminals. “We disagree that a criminal has no more hope of changing his life.”

(Editing by Martin Petty & Simon Cameron-Moore)

Morningside and The Jim Bakker Show Sending Team to Texas

Jim and Lori Bakker ready to leave for the Houston area to bring food, comfort and prayer to those needing our help September 4, 2017

By Kami Klein

Pastor Jim and Lori Bakker left today for the Houston area to help local churches struggling to keep up with the needs from the disaster left behind from Hurricane Harvey.  Jim and Lori, along with The Jim Bakker Show team will be there to feed, comfort and pray with those who have lost so much and are struggling to rebuild.  They will witness with you scenes that are left from this devastating storm, and share with you the stories of heroism, courage and the humanity of the people that have been affected by this tragic event.

Yesterday, a truck loaded full with pallets of food buckets, water purification products, Bibles and other survival supplies left Morningside bound for Houston.  In an email from Pastor Jim he wrote,

 

“Never before have you been “the hands and feet of Jesus” as much as this moment.  Because you have been prepared and have prepared to share with others, we are able to make this trip possible.  

We appreciate all you do for this Ministry and for allowing us to represent you to thousands of hurting people in need. We could not be doing this without you.

Please continue to pray for us in our journey.  Pray for those still in harm’s way. And, most importantly, continue to pray that each one will experience the love of Jesus through us to His glory. ”

 

We will be sharing what is happening in Houston directly from our team as they work alongside these true survivors that have shown the world what being a Christian and an American is all about. Please keep them in your prayers!  

Morningside and The Jim Bakker Show team ready to leave for Houston.

Morningside and The Jim Bakker Show team ready to leave for Houston.

We are now asking for your help by donating funds towards supporting and helping in areas where there is the greatest need.

The people of Houston and the gulf coast are only at the beginning of an incredibly daunting challenge as they rebuild their lives.  Now is the time to remember that we are all part of God’s family.

Now is the time for compassion!  Now is the time to act!

 Follow this link to our slideshow that will be updated throughout our team’s time in Texas!  

Please donate today!   

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! The Celebration continues at Morningside! Join us Live!!

American Flag - VOTE

By Kami Klein

Today is the Birthday of the United States of America, a country founded on a firm faith in God.  This is a nation born for freedom!  We have been through war and strife, times that would test anywhere in the world, but with our God nothing is impossible! His continuing hand of blessing upon this country can and will give us strength.  Morningside is celebrating and giving thanks all week long for our 4th of July events!  

On Tuesday afternoon please join us live as we picnic on Grace street where we will be listening to the wonderful  Lindley Creek Bluegrass Band at approximately 3:00 pm, CST.  Later, beginning at 7:00 CST, the evening festivities begin with worship led by the talented James Huey, followed by a very special service with Cindy and Mike Jacobs.  A spectacular fireworks display will begin at 9 pm CST   with all of the Morningside family!  If you are in the neighborhood, we would LOVE to have you there with us!

All of this will be Live on Demand on The Jim Bakker Show website, PTL Television Network website, Roku and Apple TV!  Be sure to check our schedule for more inspirational and educational events for the remainder of this week ending on Saturday night, July, 8th!  

God Bless you on this 4th of July Holiday!  We hope you are spending it with your loved ones.  Please join us as we continue to pray for this amazing nation and for the leadership of this country!  

 

We love you!

 

The Jim Bakker Show Hosts Paula White-Cain August 15th!

Paula White

By Kami Klein

Morningside will be welcoming Pastor Paula White-Cain to Grace Street for a special taping on The Jim Bakker Show!  As a celebrated author and teacher, popular TV personality, and spirit-led preacher of God’s Word, she has impacted people from every walk of life in more than 100 countries.

Today, Paula is married to Jonathan Cain of the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame band, Journey and is the Senior Pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Orlando, Florida. She travels extensively as a much in demand speaker and teacher of the gospel and also serves as Chairwoman of the Evangelical Advisory Board to President Donald J. Trump. Pastor White-Cain has been the spiritual adviser to President Trump for many years and delivered the invocation at President Trump’s inauguration, becoming the first female clergy member to pray at a Presidential inauguration. Her life leading to that moment has been totally remarkable.

Paula White-Cain’s childhood was tragic, abusive and at times seemed quite hopeless. She was introduced to the Bible at the age of 18 and her life was transformed.  Paula has been quoted as saying, “Champions have the courage to keep turning pages because they know a better chapter lies ahead.”  God’s mandate was for her to preach the gospel of Christ around the world, and Paula demonstrated what a champion’s heart could be and began ministering in the inner cities of Washington, DC, sharing Jesus with the children in these violence ridden neighborhoods.  

After going on to lead multiple mega-churches, she then founded Paula White Ministries.  Through her ministries, hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted with food for the needy and money to rebuild lives proving, through her actions, God’s message of love.   

The roles in Christian ministry have changed thanks to Paula White-Cain’s impact in paving the way for millions of young women to pursue God’s calling on their lives.  She is a proven leader and has received numerous awards and honors for her ministry work and has delivered many notable invocations including the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.   

Please join us for this very special show taping with Paula White-Cain on Tuesday, August 15th on Grace Street at Morningside!  Taping begins at noon and admission is free.  Don’t miss a moment with this outstanding woman of faith!  

President Trump calls for prayer after shooting

Donald Trump

By Kami Klein

In response to the shooting at Simpson Park in Alexandria of House majority Whip Steve Scalise along with the wounding of four others, President Trump called for prayer, reminding the nation: “We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in this nation’s capital, above all, they love our country.”

In a special session just hours after the President’s press conference, House speaker Paul Ryan stressed to the Senate that “An attack on one of us, is an attack on ALL of us.”  He remarked that the most memorable picture that he hoped would be remembered after this day was of the Democratic leadership engaged in prayer for the fallen. With great emotion in his voice he stated. “We are one House. The People’s House, and we are one in humanity.”

As followers of Christ, we understand the power of prayer and of God’s mercy.  Praying is bipartisan and does not belong to one political party or the other nor is it only for our nation but for the entire world for we are all God’s children.

We must always remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:19-20 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are assembled in My name, there I am in their midst.”

In his address to the press this morning, President Trump added that “we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.” In this Church family, we stand together by the thousands, and we are asking that all of us join in prayer now for our nation.   

Please pray for those that were wounded today, Steve Scalise, Officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey as well as Zachary Barth and Matt Mika.  Pray for their quick recovery and for their family and friends as they must now be ready to help in their healing with loving support.  Pray with gratitude for the protection of so many from what could have been a massacre and the law enforcement who put their lives on the line without a second thought.  And pray with compassion for the suspect’s family who must also cope with the shock of this attack.

As Christians, we are commanded to love one another.  This nation needs God’s love and as His children, we must be HIS example. Our first step must be in prayer.

 

President Trump signs Religious Liberty Executive Order on National Day of Prayer

U.S. President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty during the National Day of Prayer event at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington D.C., U.S., May 4, 2017.

By Kami Klein

On the National Day of Prayer, President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence signed a new executive order focusing on Religious Liberty.  White House officials declared “it is the policy of the administration to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.”  Today, President Trump made good on his promise to ease a ban on political activity by churches and other tax-exempt institutions.

Many friends of Morningside were already in Washington D.C. for the National Day of Prayer. Prophetic and influential leaders such as Paula White, Jentezen Franklin, Samuel Rodriguez, Pastor Ramiro Pena, Franklin Graham and Anne Graham were there for this historic moment.  Also in attendance were Alveda King, Ravi Zachariah, Rev. Maldonado, Dr. David Jeremiah, Dr. Jim Garlow and Pastor Frank Amedia.

In a signing ceremony at the White House, President Trump said: “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced any more.”  The President continued by saying, “ No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.”

This executive order will allow non-profit organizations, hospitals, educational institutions and businesses to deny certain health coverage for religious reasons.  An example of this would be Christian Groups like Little Sisters of the Poor from being forced to pay for abortion or contraception services.

Under the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law sponsored by Lyndon Johnson, organizations that are non-profit, tax exempt status are not allowed to participate in political campaigning or supporting any one candidate for elective office.   Trump’s order guides the IRS to “alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment.”

A White House official told Fox News, “I think how the President feels about the Johnson amendment is that politicians and unelected bureaucrats shouldn’t have the power to shut up their critics just because they are church leaders or charities.”

“We don’t have any plans to discriminate, we’re about not discriminating against religious organizations!”

The following is the full text of Trump’s Executive Order :  

 

PROMOTING FREE SPEECH AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to guide the executive branch in formulating and implementing policies with implications for the religious liberty of persons and organizations in America, and to further compliance with the Constitution and with applicable statutes and Presidential Directives, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom. The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government. For that reason, the United States Constitution enshrines and protects the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom. Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government. The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.

Sec. 2. Respecting Religious and Political Speech. All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech. In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury. As used in this section, the term “adverse action” means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.

Sec. 3. Conscience Protections with Respect to Preventive-Care Mandate. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.

Sec. 4. Religious Liberty Guidance. In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.

Sec. 5. Severability. If any provision of this order, or the application of any provision to any individual or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this order and the application of its other provisions to any other individuals or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

 

Sources:  Fox news, Reuters, CNN, CNBC, Washington Examiner

Texas school board can start meetings with prayer: U.S. appeals court

Praying little girl

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court said on Monday a Texas school board may open its meetings with student-led prayers without violating the U.S. Constitution.

In a 3-0 decision, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by the American Humanist Association, which said the practice by the Birdville Independent School District violated the First Amendment’s prohibition of a government establishment of religion.

The appeals court also reversed a lower court judge’s denial of “qualified immunity” to school board members, and dismissed the case against them. Birdville serves Haltom City, Texas, a suburb of Dallas and Fort Worth.

Monica Miller, a lawyer for AHA and Isaiah Smith, a 2014 Birdville High School graduate who challenged the prayers, said they were reviewing their options, including asking the entire New Orleans-based appeals court to review the case.

The Birdville school district, in a statement, called the decision a “complete vindication.”

Birdville’s school board has since 1997 let students, typically in elementary or middle school, open meetings with statements that AHA said were usually prayers, often referring to Jesus Christ and asking audience members to pray. Board members often stand and bow their heads during the invocations.

Writing for the appeals court, Circuit Judge Jerry Smith said the matter involved legislative prayer, because a school board was “more like a legislature” than a classroom.

He also said the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision letting the town of Greece in upstate New York start board meetings with prayer supported the Birdville school board’s practice.

“Most attendees at school-board meetings, including Smith, are mature adults,” and even board members’ “polite” requests that the audience stand during invocations “do not coerce prayer,” Smith wrote.

The judge added that while two other federal appeals courts reached the opposite conclusion in similar cases, their decisions predated the Greece case and students, unlike in Birdville, had formal roles in board proceedings.

Smith was appointed to the bench by Republican President Ronald Reagan, while panel members Edith Brown Clement and Leslie Southwick were appointed by Republican President George W. Bush.

“The decision is reassuring because these trustees are elected and serve without compensation, and the possibility that they might be personally liable for damages would be somewhat daunting,” D. Craig Wood, a lawyer for the defendants, said in an interview.

The case is American Humanist Association et al v Birdville Independent School District et al, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 15-11067, 16-11220.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Grant McCool and Peter Cooney)