Our Mission Landscape Has Changed

As a result of the 2014 elections, the landscape of our Faith and Action mission field will undergo tectonic changes. To begin with, the majority party in Congress sets the cultural tone of Capitol Hill. That has a significant affect on everything we do. The tone makes an impact on how we engage the people here, what access we have to them, and how we are received by them.

There’s more to this change. The longer people serve in office, the more susceptible they are to cynicism and isolationism. The cynical ones often see religious groups as either useful tools toward political ends, or threats to social progress and freedom. Isolationists are–well, just that–isolated. They hide behind layers of staff and closed doors, inaccessible to us and just about any other outsiders. These conditions have nothing to do with party affiliation. Democrats and Republicans are equally vulnerable, and Independents catch the disease, too. The remedy is found in intervening early–as in when new members to either the House or Senate arrive on Capitol Hill. That’s the time to begin building a relationship with them that can last throughout their tenure.

I’ve learned to see elections as fresh starts when it comes to ministry in Washington. When the newly elected land here, they’re often optimistic, open, excited, and ready to develop new friendships and establish new alliances. So, my team and I will be reaching out to the new members of Congress and the new United States Senators. Even if they’re simply making a move from one body to the other (as is true of five new senators that have been U.S. Representatives), it will still be an entirely new environment for them. Members and senators do not often mix and are rarely found on each others turf. Even though the three office buildings for the House of Representatives sit at a distance just the span of the Capitol building from the three Senate buildings (and their respective chambers are on either end of the Capitol Rotunda) the two bodies may as well be in different cities. The incoming representatives-cum-senators may know the scenery, but that doesn’t mean they know the rules, the rhythms, or the culture of the “upper house.”

Of course, it’s not just the principals (members of Congress and senators) that change after an election–it’s their support staff, too. Hundreds of existing staff members will change roles, re-locate offices, and literally switch chairs in this transition. There will be plenty that will lose their jobs entirely, move into the private sector, or leave the area. New faces will replace them. In so many ways, this is a sea change outside our front doors. It’s easy to think of Washington as a static, even stagnate, place, but it’s really quite dynamic. Our robust democratic Republic constantly calls for change, and change it did this past week. That change will be literally palpable outside our front door.

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Speaking of change, I thought you’d be interested in the religious affiliations of the incoming United States senators. To a one they are “Christian”–no other religions among them. Here’s how they identify themselves religiously:

Cory Gardner of Colorado: Lutheran

James Lankford of Oklahoma: Christian

Joni Ernst of Iowa: Evangelical Lutheran

Thom Tillis of North Carolina: Protestant

Tom Cotton of Arkansas: Methodist

Gary Peters of Michigan: Episcopalian

Steve Daines of Montana: Presbyterian

Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia: Presbyterian

Mike Rounds of South Dakota: Catholic

Now is a good time to begin praying for these new senators. I’ll publish a similar list of incoming House members later.

Rob +

 

 

The Relief of Talking to Friendly Media

Talking with very friendly Christian White House correspondent Susanne LaFrankie about how to pray in the time of Ebola.

Talking with very friendly Christian White House correspondent Susanne LaFrankie about how to pray in the time of Ebola.

Most of us that are Bible-believing, praying, church-attending, moral traditionalists have the idea virtually all media news organizations are hostile. That simply isn’t true. There’s actually lots of friendly media here in Washington, and it’s always such a relief to talk to their journalists. (CBN and Fox are just two agencies that immediately come to mind.)

The most recent “friendly” to come around here at Faith and Action is the new White House correspondent for EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), Susanne LaFrankie. There’s a “God-incident” story behind my meeting Susanne, but first let me say a bit about EWTN.

The inimitable and formidable founder of EWTN, Mother Angelica

The inimitable and formidable founder of EWTN, Mother Angelica

It might surprise you, but the largest religious media operation in the world emerged from the ministry of a humble nun named “Mother Angelica.” Maybe you remember her. Until only five years ago when she was sidelined by a stroke, Mother Angelica was the understated but vibrant force behind this enormous Catholic enterprise. Beginning with simple televised exhortations, “Mother” would go on to launch interview and feature story components, then news and opinion platforms, and finally radio, Internet, and social media divisions. Millions of viewers around the world now routinely avail themselves of the many programs and ministries of EWTN.

Now, back to White House correspondent Sussane LaFrankie. I met her when I plopped down on an Amtrak train seat en route home to Washington, DC, after preaching for my long-time friend and Faith and Action board member Pastor Harry Thomas of Come Alive Church in Medford, New Jersey. Preaching takes a lot out of me and I was tired. All I really wanted to

New EWTN White House correspondent, Susanne LaFrankie

New EWTN White House correspondent, Susanne LaFrankie

do was close my eyes and snooze, but I found my seatmate impossible to ignore. There was something about Sussane that registered with my spirit. We got talking, she asked me what I do, and once that cat was out of the bag, so was her’s: She was on her way to Washington to interview for the White House post for, “EWTN. Have you ever heard of it?” she asked.

Of course I had heard of EWTN, I beamed. And off we went into a prayerful conversation about the call of God, about the good work of this extraordinary media network, and–as in so many “God-incidents”–the many people we have in common. The rest is, well, to use a hackneyed phrase, “His-story.”

It’s worth noting that some of my evangelical and fundamentalist friends may be uneasy with Catholic Christianity. That’s never been true for me. First, it was a devout Catholic woman that first clearly articulated the Gospel to me, assuring me as a young Jewish man that Jesus was Jewish and that God had promises for the “seed of Abraham.” Second, my formation as a Christian included a prayer community made up of Catholic and Protestant Christians that together discipled me, demonstrating in real life the desire of Jesus in His High Priestly Prayer, John 17:21, “That they may be one.” Third, there’s my history with the pro-life movement: Catholics have led the way in championing the sanctity of life and I discovered that Catholic passion for God’s gift of Life flows from their deep spirituality and strong moral theology.

My new collaboration with Washington journalist Susanne LaFrankie only strengthens a years-long relationship I’ve had with EWTN through close colleague Fr. Frank Pavone, friends Jim and Joy Pinto of the “At Home” radio broadcast, and–of course–my own twin brother Fr. Paul’s Schenck’s frequent appearances on any number of EWTN shows.

As one evangelical voice in Washington, I’ll go on record thanking God for EWTN and it’s friendly presence. May the Lord continue to use them mightily for good in our country and in our world.

Welcome to Washington, Susanne!

Rob +

 

 

 

 

It Was 20 Years Today . . .

Oct 9, 1994: New York State Supreme Court justice William J. Ostrowski addresses guests as Paul and I look on during the launch of our ministry in Washington, DC.

Oct 9, 1994: New York State Supreme Court justice William J. Ostrowski addresses guests as Paul and I look on during the launch of our ministry in Washington, DC.

Not that Sargent Pepper taught his band to play–but that Rev. Schenck told his choir to sing. (Well, it wasn’t really his choir, but, that’s too much detail.) Let’s just say the choir struck up at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington, DC, and a new missionary outreach to government officials was begun!

The event was the inaugural service for National Community Church. Nearly 1000 guests filled the ballroom, some 20 visiting pastors and Christian leaders from all over the country joined my brother, Paul, Rev. Pat Mahoney, and me on the platform. And that choir–all 100 voices from the West End Assembly of God in Richmond–took us into the heavenlies with praise. Then, to top that, grammy award winning artiest Larnell Harris had the whole place swaying.

My position as a new church planting pastor would be short-lived, though. It wasn’t long before I realized the people I felt called to reach with the life-transforming message of the Gospel and with a prophetic witness to biblical truth do not generally attend church in the nation’s capital. Top ranking government officials like members of congress, U.S. senators, top-tier White House officials, and Supreme Court justices don’t live in Washington, DC. They’re either in the outskirts or they return on weekends to their home districts and states.

So, I needed a different strategy. I recruited a young minister named Mark Batterson to assume the new church’s pulpit while I turned my attention to Capitol Hill. It was about to get very interesting . . .

Can’t believe it’s been two decades. Watch here for the next installment of “Memorable Ministry Moments in Washington, DC.”

Rob +

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t help but remember . . .

 

 

2001: Three days after 9-11, I led a procession of pastors from various denominations to the attack site at the Pentagon where emergency responders and passers by joined with us in prayer.

2001: Three days after 9-11, I led a procession of pastors from various denominations to the attack site at the Pentagon where emergency responders and passers by joined with us in prayer.

 

Each year as the anniversary of the September 11th attacks of 2001 comes around, I experience flashbacks.

Among them is my frantic call to my daughter, who, as a college intern, was living in our ministry center just a stone’s throw from the Capitol. Reports said another hijacked plane was headed in her direction. I yelled to her, “Get out of the building! Get out of the city! Get in your car and drive east!”

There’s the image of the giant smoking cavity in the south façade of the Pentagon, the light poles scattered on the lawn, sheared off by the underbelly of the plane as it barreled into its target; the endless parade of trucks collecting pieces of the aircraft, chunks of debris, and human remains.

There’s my later walk to Ground Zero in New York to do my duty as a relief chaplain to first responders. In my mind I see our prayer circles and their earnestly clasped, brushburned hands and dust-laden clothing—their filthy facemasks and bloodied eyes from the airborne pulverized glass and gypsum.

Nothing stands out in memory more, though, than that Friday when I led a multi-denominational prayer procession of pastors to a grass-lined ridge just opposite the attack site at the Pentagon. As we walked, quietly praying, passers-by spontaneously joined with us. They seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. We began as a group of eight clergy and soon had dozens of tourists, journalists, government workers, and emergency personnel in our wake. As we knelt to say the Lord’s Prayer, a middle-aged man beside me began sobbing. He later told me he was a reporter and that he hadn’t prayed since he was young boy.

September-the-eleventh is one of those super-charged moments in time when everything that is good meets everything that is evil. It is a consummately human moment when we see just how good—and just how bad—we can be. It’s a moment when humanity’s need for The Savior is not debatable.

The original 9/11 was very hard, very painful, very frightening, and very sad. Still, I’m glad I experienced it. The police officers, firefighters, construction workers, chaplains, and the myriad of ordinary volunteers that emerged in its aftermath became my heroes. The dead and the injured became my family. The rebuilding—literally and figuratively—became a sign of great hope and a reason for optimism in an otherwise troubled and pessimistic world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –Jesus in John 16:33

Your missionary to Washington, DC,

 

Rev. Rob Schenck

President, Faith and Action

 

 

The Honorable (and Venerable) Samuel J. Cornelius 1928-2014

Doing a video with the venerable--and memorable--Sam Cornelius, in the U.S. Capitol, 2009

Doing a video with the venerable–and very memorable–the Late and Honorable Samuel J. “Sam” Cornelius, in the         U.S. Capitol, February,  2009

 

Samuel “Sam” Cornelius, who flew home to heaven on August 22, was one of a kind. He was the consummate diplomat, decorous gentleman, doyenne of black conservative politicians, mentor to many generations of young leaders (among them, Clarence Thomas, now of the United States Supreme Court), civil rights leader, White House official, entrepreneur business developer, and on and on it goes. All this is in addition to his being a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and faithful Christian churchman.

It was a privilege for me to know Sam and to benefit from his tutelage. Until age and infirmity slowed him down, he was the center of any room he entered on Capitol Hill. I came to know him through the Capitol Hill Executive Service Club, of which he was a long-time member and where I serve as chaplain. Whenever Sam was in attendance at our breakfast meetings in the U.S. Capitol, I knew instantly because there was an extra energy in the room. And there was always that cluster of people surrounding him. Not that Sam demanded the attention. In fact, he was very low key—sometimes so soft-spoken I had to cup my ear with my hand to hear him. Sam didn’t demand the attention; he naturally commanded it because of the gravitas and substance he carried in his life experience. People in my circles wanted to know what Sam thought of any critical issue. And there were good reasons to seek his wisdom.

First, Sam was known as a “good man.” (They are few in number in Washington.) He was sincere, principled, and clever in a good sense. He understood and liked people—especially politicians. He didn’t have an axe to grind with anyone. A lifelong Republican (who served in the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan), Sam knew what it cost to think for himself. Many of Sam’s fellow black leaders expressed contempt for his conservative sensibilities, but they never despised him personally. In fact, he was widely admired by friend and foe. As a conservative, he had been a leader in the civil rights movement, including integrating the YMCA from his seat as executive director in Omaha, Nebraska. When President Jimmy Carter, among other prominent Democrats, decided the time wasn’t right to pass a bill on a Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday, Sam rallied high-profile Republicans to get it done—and they did.

Second, Sam was sensible. Over the nearly twenty years I knew Sam, he never jumped on anyone’s bandwagon. He was always carefully considered about any position he took on any issue. He weighed all sides to an argument, judged the matter by his core convictions, prayed about it, sought scriptural and sometimes pastoral guidance, then took his stand and advanced it congenially. He was rock solid and unwavering. He also had a great sense of humor. My memories of him are as much with his big grin and infectious laugh as they are with his furrowed brow and sober pronouncements. Sam was balanced.

Third, Sam was a godly man. He feared the Lord, revered the Word of God, prayed deeply and sincerely, and had great respect for the church and for the clergy. No matter how many times I invited him to call me Rob, he always addressed me as “Reverend.” Yet, when I insisted on calling him “Mr. Cornelius,” he rebuked me and ordered me to call him “Sam.” What was I to do? He was my senior in every way. Of course, I acquiesced, but I always thought of him as Mister and Sir.

If space allowed, my list of reasons for admiring this man would be much, much longer, but these are enough to form my tribute to a unique leader among leaders. “Mr. Cornelius” left his indelible mark on everything he touched: The communities and societies he was a part of, the institutions he helped to better and to build, the movements he so effectively led, the government he faithfully served, the family he lovingly headed. Most of all, for me, I honor Samuel J. Cornelius because he helped to shape my life, my ministry, and my attitudes towards government and politicians. I will be forever in his debt.

God bless you dear teacher, dear elder, dear friend. Until I join you at Abraham’s bosom, I will miss your warm company and good counsel.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:3 ESV)

 

 

Praying with the Persecuted at the Gates of the White House

As so often happens, I had planned to make this week a slow one—mostly to catch up on my memoir, which I’ve abandoned too often in recent days. But, as we say, God had other plans.

On Tuesday, Rev. Pat Mahoney called me to say he was meeting up in Washington with persecuted people from Iraq. He asked if I would join him. How could I say no?

On Wednesday we met Faysal Shaqooli, a spokesman for the American Yazidi community, one of the religious minorities targeted with extinction by the radical jihadi terrorists called ISIS. He has been in the U.S. for some time because he was targeted for assassination years ago, after technically assisting U.S. forces during the recent war. Faysal’s mother and sister remain in Iraq and are in grave danger. His mother is in the mountains facing serious illness due to unsanitary conditions, if not dehydration and starvation. His sister is in even greater peril. She was taken to a prison controlled by the terrorists after her husband was banded up with thousands of other men and presumably executed. The whereabouts of their children is uncertain.

Scores of American Yazidi came to Washington this week to demand that President Obama order the military to intervene. While the Yazidi religion is non-Christian, they have a very long history of friendship with Christians in Iraq. Their families often intermarry and they protect one another. Just as they’ve lived together, Iraqi Yazidis and Christians have suffered together in this latest disaster. Thousands have been murdered, and their women and children are being marked for sale on wife-market.

The Yazidis showed me photos of their family and friends stacked up in mass graves after being summarily shot by ISIS goons. The images brought back the terrible feeling I had when, as a boy, my father showed me similar photos of our fellow Jews in Nazi mass gave sites.

This is another holocaust—this time of Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities. One of the Yazidi leaders said to Pat and me, “If the United States won’t help us, maybe Israel will. To show our gratitude, every family will send one male to serve in their army. We promise!”

On Thursday, I went to the gates of the White House to join with dozens of Yazidis that gathered there. They were loudly crying out to President Obama, pleading with him to send military help to their stricken communities. In the fervor, with shouting, crying, and chanting all around, they yelled to me, “What can you do to help us?”

I told them I had already spoken to government officials and Christian relief agencies. I had drafted and successfully worked for passage of a resolution at the annual meeting of my denominational body calling attention to the crisis. Of course, none of that was enough to console them. I was left with only one way to help, I explained. To offer up prayers to the God that can save them. I asked if I could do that right there, in front of the White House gates. They said “Yes, yes, yes.”

 

Praying for the persecuted at the White House

Praying for the persecuted at the White House

I invited their spokesman to kneel with me, which he did. Others joined us. In that prayer time, I held a picture of the body of a little girl killed in the calamity. Another little Yazidi girl stood next to me holding a poster-sized photo of children traumatized and crying. It was horrible. I pled with God to mercifully look down on these suffering people and their Christian friends, and to move on the hearts of all good people to help them. I asked especially for the Lord to move the heart of President Obama to come to their aid. Right after I pronounced, “In Jesus name, Amen,” the Yazidis began chanting, “Save the Christians of Iraq! Save the Christians of Iraq!” I was speechless.

As you saw, God heard and answered those prayers. Last night, just hours after we prayed, President Obama spoke to the nation about the Christians and the Yazidis, and announced he had authorized humanitarian and military aid.

Tomorrow, Saturday, August 9, I will be at the White House gates again, this time as Pat hosts Iraqi Christians who have family and friends in the same horrible circumstances. We will pray with them, too. Of course, they love the Lord and are in the family, so we’ll have so much more in common. I’m really looking forward to being with them. The Yazidis, though, made for a very meaningful Christian ministry opportunity. Let me explain.

The Yazidi religion is very old. It predates both Christianity and Islam. They claim it predates Judaism. (Well, perhaps “modern Judaism,” but couldn’t be biblical religion.) In any case, Yazidiism is at least related to Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion. Many scholars believe the wise men that came from the east to find the Christ child, using the Bethlehem star to guide them, were Zoroastrians. If so, I find it fascinating that all these millennia later, their religious and ethnic descendants may have again bowed in the presence of the only Savior.

Like the wise men in search of the Christ Child, we must keep focused on the only Savior of humankind. At times like these, we’re tempted to place our trust, “in chariots and horses, “ but, as the Psalmist reminds us, “we must remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)

Yesterday I told the Yazidis just that—and today, they are learning it is true.

Please continue to pray for all our neighbors in Iraq, and especially those of the household of faith.

Rob +

 

Talking Christians and Guns in Branson

AIRING MY THOUGHTS

“I did not speak in secret . . .” (Isaiah 45:19)

Maybe it’s because my roots are in New York, where everyone just blurts out streams of consciousness. There is very little self-censoring or circumspection among the sons and daughters of immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Puerto Rico, Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean. What you see is what you get—or, in this case—what you hear. We’re all loud and unvarnished. Jews from New York are especially so.

Of course, I realize there is need for discretion—and even biblical support for concealing information. (Esther is just one story that comes to mind.) In any case, I’ve always favored telling it like is—letting my thoughts be known. In fact, I prefer to think out loud and get feedback to I can perfect my ideas. I did just that this past week in Branson, Missouri.

I was in the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World” for the annual conference of the Evangelical Church Alliance International, one of America’s oldest associations of evangelical clergy. The “ECA”—as it’s known—is where I keep my ministerial affiliation. (In other words, it’s my membership in the ECA that empowers me to do all those ministry things like marry and bury people, preach and teach, and make pastoral visits to hospitals and other institutions.) I was re-elected this past week as chairman of the board of directors; it will be my second two-year term.

Being with colleagues, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ and in ministry is one of the most enjoyable things I do. During my 32 years of full-time Christian service, I’ve met countless thousands of pastors, missionaries, chaplains, and other Christian workers, and I find them all so interesting.

This past week I caused a few wrinkled brows among my fellows, though. In my annual Chairman’s Address I—well—addressed a very sensitive subject: Christian attitudes towards guns and violence in our culture. Now, I don’t take one absolute position on gun ownership and use. I realize the significance of the Second Amendment—but I also know it doesn’t trump the Second Commandment. The main point I made in my speech was that the ultimate authority for Christians on everything is not a legal document, not public opinion, and not politicians and political groups—but the Bible, the Word of God alone.

My point in addressing the gun issue was to open a prayerful, biblically guided, open and honest conversation about a critical issue that involves life and death, not matter which side you favor. Christian opinion runs the gamut from blanket bans (Anabaptist pacifists) to firearm enthusiasts (Christian Gun Owners Association).

Because of my own nuanced position on gun use by Christians, I’ve become the focus of a documentary film being made by Abigail Disney (of the famed entertainment family) and her Fork Films enterprise. Abby makes no bones about the fact that she’s basically anti-gun. She believes they only add to violence in society. I’m not with her on that score. Still, neither do I think that the panacea for every threat to personal wellbeing is a sidearm. I certainly don’t think that a semi-automatic weapon in the hands of a mentally ill person is a good idea. And, I most certainly don’t believe that being ready and able to shoot people dead is the best Christian answer to the problem.

So, we need to pray this through—search the Scriptures—and talk, honestly and candidly.

Neither Michael Bloomberg nor Wayne LaPierre can tell Christians what we should do on the question of guns and their use. I believe the final answer will come only from God, in a still small voice, consistent with Scripture.

The audio of my speech in Branson should soon be available at www.ecainternational.org . I’ll be very interested in what you think . . .

 

Rob +

 

 

Prayers of Thanksgiving After Hobby Lobby!

This was the news release we sent out immediately after the decision was announced from the bench. I was in the courtroom as a VIP guest and could hardly contain my joy. Outside I did something I’ve never done: I burst into singing!
More details at www.faithandaction.org
Prayer Service to Be Held at Supreme Court After Hobby Lobby Decision
Contact: Faith and Action, 202-546-8329; Peggy Nienaber, Faith and Action, 202-236-0953 on site cell
WASHINGTON, June 30, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — In response to the Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, the Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck (pronounced SHANK) of Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital and minister to top officials in Washington, and other clergy will lead a prayer service of thanksgiving in front of the United States Supreme Court today, June 30 at 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM.
 
Event Details:
What:  Prayer service at Supreme Court in response to Hobby Lobby decision
When: Monday, June 30, 2014, 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Where: In front of west steps of the United States Supreme Court, 1 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20543

Contact on site: Peggy Nienaber, 202-236-0953

Rev. Schenck has known the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, for over a decade. On the day their case was argued at before the justices, Rev. Schenck led the Greens and the Hahn family, (owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties) for an unprecedented prayer service in the Supreme Court dining room just before they all entered the courtroom. Rev. Schenck sat through the oral argument and later held a prayer service outside the Court for the families and for the justices.
“It is a good day in America,” said Rev. Schenck, after listening to the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito and examining a printed copy from the Court clerk’s office. “The highest court in our land has carried out its duty as the guardian of our most cherished, God-given, unalienable rights. The Court has rightly affirmed the liberty of two wonderful families to conduct their own businesses in a way that reflects their most deeply held convictions. God bless the majority of this court for doing right by the Greens and the Hahns, and for doing right by our country in affirming the religious freedoms of all American business owners. We must thank God for a good day in America and pray for His continued protection into the future.”

Why The Supreme Court Will Go With Hobby Lobby

Today the Supreme Court will announce its decision in the case known as “Hobby Lobby.” Without rehearsing again all of the details, I’ll simply say that at the heart of it is the question of whether corporations have religious rights, specifically as they are protected by a federal law called “RFRA” (Religious Freedom Restoration Act).

I believe corporations do have religious rights and ought to be governed by them. In the case of the retail chain Hobby Lobby, the corporation really boils down to one family, the Greens of Oklahoma City. There’s another family in this, too, the Hahns of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, who, like the Greens, chose to incorporate their cabinet making business. The Court should have an easier time with these two entities because they’re not multinational operations with hundreds or thousands of stockholders. They’re made up of just two families that own each business, respectively, and entirely.

With each day I grow more confident the Court will rule in the favor of these two families, but I’m hoping it goes further. Christian investors typically want their business interests to reflect their most deeply held convictions, and the First Amendment protects them in doing just that.When someone starts a business it’s an extension of themselves–it’s a part of their being. For virtually all entrepreneurs, they and their businesses are one in the same. That’s equally true for conscientious investors of every stripe. There are even “socially responsible mutual funds” that assure clients their money will be used in ways that are consistent with their values. The Court should affirm all this in its ruling.

The Bible makes no distinction between someone’s private, personal life, and their business activities. Numerous passages address the moral and spiritual obligations that attend to business, such as Proverbs 11:1, “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight.” The Ten Commandments apply equally to businesses and individuals. In his book, Why Business Matters to God, author Jeff Van Duzer writes, “[F]or Christians interested in advancing God’s agenda of peace, justice and reconciliation, a focus on business and its role in society is critical.”

After sitting through the oral arguments in this case March, it was clear to me that several of the justices understand this important principle of Christian business ownership. Others do not get it. I’m convinced, though, enough of them are skeptical of the government’s claim that the new health insurance regime requires forcing businesses to comply with the contraception mandate that they will strike it down in these two instances. But, if the right justice authors the opinion, we might get something a little closer to the biblical mandate on business ethics. That’s the focus of my prayer today. In any case, after 20 years observing court decisions, even if today isn’t so good for the First Commandment, I think it will be a good day for the First Amendment.

Rob +

 

What Will Obama Do With This Democrat’s Prayer?

The House and Senate have passed a law directing that the famous D-Day prayer offered over radio by President Franklin Delanor Roosevelt be inscribed on the World War II monument here in Washington, DC.

Here’s the prayer:

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

President Roosevelt delivers his radio address and prayer on June 6, 1944

President Roosevelt delivers his radio address and prayer on June 6, 1944

As you can see, this prayer is no “quickie.’ This is a well thought out, well constructed, theologically deep orison. I suspect even the eloquent FDR had some help with it. If you know the older Episcopalianism of which Roosevelt was part, you may detect the ring of a bishop. Presidents rarely have time to craft their own words, especially presidents at war. Perhaps a call to the Washington Cathedral yielded a ready writer. In any case, Roosevelt did offer the prayer, in its entirety, and read it quite sincerely. It was a wonderful gift of faith and hope at the end of an exhausting, terrible, and very costly war.

I’m hopeful the current president (at war) will quickly sign the legislation and order up the engravers. There is a certain urgency about this. World War II veterans–the very ones the Commander-in-Chief prayed for in 1944–are passing away rapidly. They should be given the pleasure of seeing that beautiful presidential prayer for them incused on that breathtaking granite tribute to their many sacrifices.

The FDR prayer would also accomplish something else meaningful: It would telegraph a message that prayer is neither partisan (Democrats pray, too), nor alien. It has been part of the American experience and culture since before we were a Republic, and it has served us well in every way, particularly during times of crisis. Should the current president not sign this act, it will say something very different; something I’m sure he does not intend to say.

I add my “Amen” to the to the posting of the FDR D-Day prayer!

Rob +

P.S. You can listen to the prayer here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLnEmdXaFYE