- The Washington Times - Monday, February 5, 2024

This week, we begin with a question flummoxing so many: “What is a woman?” Some politicians and U.S. states are taking action to clear up any biological uncertainty once and for all.

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“Four states have adopted measures declaring what it means to be a woman, and West Virginia soon could become the fifth,” The Washington Times’ Valerie Richardson reports, noting Republican Gov. Jim Justice is now openly supporting the Women’s Bill of Rights. “The legislation establishes only two sexes for purposes of state law and defines ‘male’ and ‘female’ based on biological sex at birth.”

You can read more about the Women’s Bill of Rights and what’s unfolding in West Virginia here.

House Speaker Mike Johnson pressures Biden

House Speaker Mike Johnson, Louisiana Republican, called on the Biden administration during the International Religious Freedom Summit 2024 in Washington to enforce protections for Uyghur Muslims being persecuted by China, stating the issue shouldn’t be seen as partisan.

“At this moment, the U.S. has an opportunity and an obligation to prevent genocide and punish those who committed it,” Mr. Johnson said.

Now in its fourth year, the summit draws religious liberty, advocates, scholars and victims of religious persecution to Washington for two days of advocacy and education.

Read Mr. Johnson’s full comments on the matter.

Women worldwide persecuted for beliefs

In other news out of the religious freedom summit, women’s advocates told the forum that tens of millions of women are persecuted for their religious beliefs, but their stories go untold because of their gender, Mr. Kellner reports.

“The research points to the fact that because they’re women, sometimes they’re sold into sex slavery; sometimes there are forced conversions; sometimes women are more vulnerable to blasphemy charges because they’re weaker,” said Lou Ann Sabatier, a cofounder of the FoRB (Freedom of Religion or Belief) Women’s Alliance, which helps women advocate in their own countries. “It’s a cultural, ethnic issue.”

Read more here.

Religious liberty tested in Japan

Meanwhile, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the summit that the principle of religious liberty faces a historic test in Japan, warning that a communist-backed effort to punish the Unification Church could carry severe consequences for people of all faiths around the globe.

“Mr. Gingrich and other speakers cast a bright spotlight on the Japanese government’s push to strip the tax-exempt religious status of the Unification Church, which has operated in the country since the late 1950s,” The Times’ Ben Wolfgang reports. Mr. Gingrich and others say the roots of the campaign against the church can be traced back decades, but the most recent spark started after the 2022 assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Have we forgotten God?

Robert Jeffress, an author, televangelist and leading pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, offers some striking words about the division in America and provides a simple answer to mend our culture and nation: The Ten Commandments.

In his new book, “The 10: How to Live and Love in a World That Has Lost Its Way,” Mr. Jeffress explores the timeless truths of living in a relationship with God instead of in competition with Him. And he ponders whether we’ve forgotten the Lord. Here’s what he had to say.

Jewish student targeted over religious identity

A Delaware school district will reimburse the family of a Jewish student who was tormented over her religious identity. The student will be compensated for counseling services, and the school district will issue an anti-harassment statement.

“The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced Monday the resolution of a Title VI complaint filed against the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Wilmington, saying that the student was subjected to ‘harassment that created a hostile environment based on her national origin [shared Jewish ancestry],’” Ms. Richardson reports.

Fired bishop set to speak

Mr. Kellner reports that Joseph E. Strickland, the Texas bishop fired by Pope Francis in November, is set to deliver a keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual dinner this month.

“Bishop Joseph E. Strickland will speak at the CPAC Ronald Reagan Dinner on Feb. 23 and will celebrate Mass for attendees at the gathering, one of the nation’s largest meetings of conservatives,” Mr. Kellner reports. “Since then, [he] has made several media appearances, led prayers outside the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Baltimore, and argued for conservative positions on his X account.”

Read more about the story here.

Author’s Christian nationalism warning

Tim Alberta, a journalist and author of “The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism,” said Christians should look more to principles than individual politicians, warning about the pitfalls of so-called Christian nationalism.

“God is not biting his fingernails over what happens in the United States of America, regardless of who wins or loses some election,” he told Mr. Kellner. “I think the question is, are the Christian nationalists maligning the reputation of the church? That’s the reputation I worry about the most, because I believe if the church’s reputation is soiled, if the credibility of the gospel of Jesus Christ is diminished, then we as believers have a much harder time carrying that gospel to all the nations and making believers out of an unbelieving world.”

Read what else he had to say here.

Baptist baptisms tick up, but…

Meanwhile, The Southern Baptist Convention saw some positive trends, with 16% more baptisms being held in 2022 than during the previous year. But, as Mr. Kellner notes, a 20-year downward trend persisted.

SBC membership itself fell by 457,371 in 2022. Mr. Kellner reports on just how massive the decline has been: “Southern Baptist membership has fallen from its highest level of 16.3 million in 2006 to 13.2 million today.” Read more here.

In our opinion

“Different kind of nuts.” Billy Hallowell explains how comedian Bill Maher’s recent “men can have babies” takedown unveils the most toxic attribute plaguing our culture: our collective divorce from truth.

“Mr. Maher’s reaction shows, even an atheist can see that punishing loving parents, foisting confusion on children, deceiving parents, and convincing kids to lie to their moms and dads violates everything good and right in the world,” Mr. Hallowell writes.

“Bad advice.” Jason Jimenez tackles another hot topic right now: Pastor Alistair Begg’s controversial advice about LGBTQ weddings.

Mr. Jimenez delivers a compassionate response and offers “three areas of biblical doctrine that will act as direct confirmation to Mr. Begg that his advice is inconsistent with what he believes doctrinally and reveals a compromise that caters to the sexual revolution that undermines Christian ethics.”

Must we love everyone? Everett Piper offers an important response when asked an intriguing question: “Does the Bible obligate us to love everyone despite who or what they are?” Here’s his thought-provoking reply.

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