During this Christmas season as you pray for what God would have you give to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering for our foreign missionaries, also pray for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world facing persecution. Every six minutes a Christian dies for their faith around the world, making Christianity the most persecuted religion on Earth.
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It was a blessing to be among the more than 400 who attended the American Renewal Project event in Kansas City Dec. 7-8. For me the highlight was the address by noted Christian author and social critic Os Guinness. He discussed the covenantal nature of the government God ordained for Israel in the Old Testament as well as that of the U.S. Constitution. He pointed out that Israel and the United States are two of only three nations to have governments that are covenantal in nature. Most importantly he reminded us that, with such governments, it is God who always keeps His end of the bargain. It is man who fails, causing the system to break down. The American Renewal Project will have another event, Feb. 5-6, in St. Louis. Watch for the first issue of The Pathway in 2018 for location and registration information.
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State Rep. Lindall Shumake, R-Hannibal, has filed a bill (HJR 55) in the Missouri House of Representatives that would put on the statewide ballot in 2018 a repeal of the so-called Blaine Amendment in the Missouri Constitution. The amendment forbids direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation. There are at least two good reasons to pass HJR 55:
- It could facilitate Gov. Eric Greitens’ quest to reform public education in Missouri. Abolishing the Blaine Amendment could aid in the state’s transition to school choice, with perhaps federal vouchers being used through a third party which would replace objectionable government involvement by providing the voucher funds to the school based on parental choice.
- It is good politics. If passed by the General Assembly, the governor could place the initiative – which should be supported by conservatives – on the November ballot, potentially boosting conservative turnout.
- Not only should Missouri Baptists support repeal of the Blaine Amendment (viewing it as anti-religious liberty), but it should garner significant Catholic support. Why? The amendment, named for former Speaker of the House and U.S. Secretary of State James G. Blaine, was first introduced as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1875. It failed, but versions of the amendment were added to state constitutions in 37 states – including Missouri – in order to enforce the nativist bigotry of the day against Catholics. Who would have ever thought that Missouri’s first Jewish governor could be the one to support an initiative that would repeal a law born of anti-Catholic bigotry?
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Missouri Southern Baptists have a warm, working relationship with the governor and his staff. I had the privilege of visiting with them in recent days to talk about the governor’s priorities for the 2018 session of the General Assembly. Education reform is at the top of his list, though details remain in the works. In our meeting, I emphasized parental rights and no government involvement were non-negotiable priorities for Missouri Baptists.
It is interesting that bills affirming and protecting parental rights have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate as well as the Missouri House. A parental rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been introduced by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Meanwhile, House Bill 1294 has been introduced by State Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch (R-Hallsville) that specifies that parental liberty and to “direct the upbringing, education, and care of his or her children is a fundamental right.”
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It looks like the Missouri Supreme Court has set oral arguments for Jan. 23 at 9:30 a.m., for the Satanic Temple lawsuit against Missouri’s pro-life 72-hour waiting period/informed consent law. Who would have ever thought we would be fighting Satanists at the Missouri Supreme Court?
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I am grateful to God for the opportunities He is giving me to represent Him in the halls of our government. I am blessed to be the keynote speaker at the 42nd Annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, 7 a.m., Jan. 4. I want to thank Governor Greitens for his thoughtful invitation. Pray for me as I address the governor, other state-wide officeholders, the Missouri Supreme Court, General Assembly and guests.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!