Churches v. FEMA, Trouble at State, Christian Movies, and International Day of Prayer

SIGNS AND WONDERS

You’ll Miss Us When We’re Gone. At Colson Center editorial meetings, where we talk about topics for the BreakPoint radio commentaries and for articles for the website, we have developed a shorthand to talk about certain kinds of stories. “The snake eating its tail story” is a story about a self-contradictory worldview, and its consequences. These stories often involve someone who doesn’t believe in absolute truth either asserting that something is true, or being caught up short when truth crashes in. The Harvey Weinstein story is an example: Hollywood normalizes a hyper-sexualized culture, but is ultimately bitten by the snake it created. Another species of story is the “you’ll miss us when we’re gone” story. These stories are about Christians who are doing great work, but are thwarted in that work by bogus claims of bias or political correctness. One example: when Catholic Charities had to get out of the adoption business in Massachusetts because it wouldn’t place children with gay parents. Now, though, some churches are deciding they will not go quietly into that good night. According to WORLD, “Houston-area Catholic and Jewish congregations have filed legal briefs in support of three churches suing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for denying disaster relief funds because of their religious identity.” The churches allowed their buildings to be used as FEMA command stations, but are now being denied funds to repair and rebuild because they are religious. The lawsuit hopes to overturn a FEMA policy in effect since 1998 forbidding the agency from providing money to repair churches or synagogues.

Who’s in Charge? It sometimes surprises non-political types to hear how many issues related to religion and social issues get decided in the State Department. International religious liberty issues, funding of abortion, care for the poor around the world, and a whole range of other issues are a part of the State Department portfolio. That’s why it’s troubling that so many State Department positions remain unfilled. According to Mindy Belz, who covers the State Department for WORLD, “The inside joke, say newcomers and old-timers alike: The president may be lord of the headlines, but at Foggy Bottom it feels like the ninth year of the Obama administration.”

At the Movies. Several Christian-themed movies have hit theaters in recent weeks, with mixed results. “Same Kind of Different as Me” continued its lackluster run. After two weeks, it has generated about $5 million in ticket sales. That’s not terrible for a Christian movie, but it’s far below expectations. Meanwhile, “Let There Be Light,” a movie starring the husband-and-wife team of Kevin and Sam Sorbo, pulled in nearly $2 million from a limited release of fewer than 400 screens.

Prager Files Suit. Prager University (PragerU) is a nonprofit online digital organization that, in its own words, “produces short, concise, graphics-based videos that are viewed by millions of people, including a large viewership of young people.” Its videos are “broadly based on Judeo-Christian values and conservative thought.” PragerU filed a federal lawsuit in California against Google and YouTube for censoring its educational videos. The suit charges that YouTube (which is owned by Google) “use their restricted mode filtering . . . as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU.”

International Day of Prayer: Churches around the world will recognize the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Nov. 5 and Nov. 12.

Image copyright Open Doors USA.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.


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  • Paul McCosby

    With reference to the state department issue, President Trump seems to be following a policy of pushing his judicial nominations as a higher priority. This is complicated by an enormous backlog and a senate moving at an extremely slow pace.