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Pastor Sues NY Over House of Worship Gun Ban, Warns of ‘Extreme’ Second Amendment Crackdown

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A pastor is suing New York State over a law prohibiting firearms at houses of worship, warning the government’s provisions put his church at risk and hamper Second Amendment rights.

Micheal Spencer, pastor of His Tabernacle Family Church, a Christian church in Horseheads, New York, argues the law unconstitutionally restricts churches’ Second Amendment rights while still allowing businesses to decide for themselves whether a firearm is permitted on their property.

Spencer is hoping to see a court overturn these gun regulations, citing the impact on his church’s security ministry, which can no longer carry weapons to protect the property.

Past threats and concerns have left the preacher and his church feeling vulnerable.

“One of the challenges that we have is that we’re on television now,” Spencer said, noting the large size of his church. “When somebody has — whether it be a psychological issue or a God-hating issue — we’re probably the first ones [they go after].”

The preacher said he and his late wife not long ago received a message from someone who threatened to shoot them in the head. Other similar incidents have unfolded over the years.

But Spencer said his biggest concern is the parishioners — and especially the children — who worship at the church.

“We have a hundred to 160 children every single week at this church,” he said. “And you know, why in the world would we want to compromise the opportunity and ability … to protect the body of Christ against [threats], whether they be lunatic, whether they be demon-possessed, whether they just be individuals that are God-haters?”

Spencer said he believes he and his church have the “privilege and the right” to protect themselves. And he said his church security team has always been well-trained and prepared for their duties.

“I don’t like the fact that we have to, but the fact is, in today’s world, we have to,” he said of securing the property. “And it’s proven multiple times a year in America.”

Spencer’s attorney, Jordan Pratt, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute, said some elements of the New York law make it “legally problematic,” highlighting the targeting of houses of worship. While churches and other religious arenas have these restrictions, he said secular businesses are permitted to make firearm decisions for themselves.

Pratt gave a hypothetical situation where His Tabernacle Family Church disavowed its faith, kept the same leadership, and became a feel-good, for-profit coffee hour. In such a strange scenario, the sudden for-profit — with the same location and leaders — would be permitted to have firearms on its premises.

“It’s not just that we have a Second Amendment problem,” Pratt said. “What we have is a forced choice between First and Second Amendment rights.”

He continued, “If you wish to exercise your Second Amendment rights, then you cannot engage in worship, and that is deeply offensive.”

The attorney cited U.S. Supreme Court cases like Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York v. Cuomo, which dealt with occupancy limits during COVID-19, and New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which struck down previous New York gun restrictions, to note the high court has already made it clear New York has too vociferously violated residents’ rights.

It should also be noted a New York judge, in recent weeks, delivered a temporary hold and then a preliminary injunction against the law until a final ruling on the matter; the New York law makes it a felony for a person with a concealed-carry license to have a gun at “any place of worship or religious observation,” according to CNN.

Pratt also noted how many church assaults and attacks have been at the hands of someone outside of the house of worship who has come in and open-fired. This creates further questions about why the church itself cannot ensure more intensive protection.

“This isn’t even a sensible mode of legislating, let alone one that passes constitutional muster,” he said. “If New York is concerned, as it should be, about the safety and security of its religious houses of worship, I think what it should be doing is giving ministers the exact same right.”

Spencer echoed this sentiment, saying he’s “flabbergasted” over the government’s attempts to “overpower our First Amendment to demand the church obey the government.”

“That is where we are taking a stance, because … they should not have the right to dictate to the church what we cannot do inside of our building,” he said. “I’m amazed at their boldness to stand forth and to put regulations against the church.”

Spencer said he’s hoping this lawsuit successfully helps overturn the law and allows churches like his own to protect parishioners, including young children.

“The governor has never visited this church. She has no clue who we are, what we do, or how we do,” he said of Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. “Yet the imposition was extreme.”

The preacher added, “It is quite confusing to me … how the government is trying to slowly erode our rights as American citizens.”
Sources:faithwire

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Do Christians Really Donate More? Bible’s Stunning Impact on Charitable Giving Revealed in Fascinating New Study

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As the debate over the impact of Christianity on charitable behavior forges on, a new study reveals Scripturally-engaged Americans are “far more likely than others to donate to charity.”

In fact, the majority of these individuals — people who interact consistently with Scripture and allow it to shape their lives and relationships — report giving to such causes, according to the eighth chapter of “The State of the Bible” report.

“Americans who are engaged with the Bible gave $145 billion to charitable causes in 2021,” a statement from the American Bible Society read. “And … Practicing Christians, those who are actively living out their faith, are much more likely to give.”

The results are pretty stunning when comparing people engaged in the Bible with those who are disengaged as well as the so-called Moveable Middle, a group falling between those dynamics.

Bible-engaged Americans gave a total of $145 billion to charities in 2021, amounting to about $2,907 per household. The same figure for the Bible disengaged was just $924.

To underscore the monumental nature of that giving, consider that Scripturally engaged Americans account for just 19% of adults yet give 44% of every dollar donated.

The finer details point to the fascinating nature of this group’s generosity.

“People who are Scripture-engaged gave six-times as much to churches as those in the Movable Middle and 13-times as much as those who are Bible-disengaged,” a statement explained. “When it comes to non-church giving, Scripture-engaged Americans gave 9% more than the Bible-disengaged and 165% more than the Movable Middle.”

Giving among active believers is, thus, much higher than for other cohorts.

Dr. John Farquhar Plake, director of ministry intelligence for the American Bible Society, said his organization’s research continues to show “a strong correlation between charitable giving and human flourishing.” This is particularly relevant among Christians surveyed in the annual report.

“Engaging with the Bible and actively living out our faith doesn’t simply mean reading the words in the pages of Scripture — rather, it is a transformation of the heart that inspires us to love and live well,” Plake said.

The results for this chapter of the “State of the Bible” were collected from 2,598 phone and online responses from American adults in January 2022.

Atheists will often decry the Bible and its contents, yet study after study shows the strong benefits faith offers individuals and, in turn, the culture at large.

As Faithwire reported, an earlier chapter from the “State of the Bible” report showed “Americans who consistently read and apply the Bible report greater levels of hope and resilience.” Read more about the Bible’s significant impact on the faithful here.
Sources:faithwire

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PASTOR JACOB MATHEW – 57 MEMORIAL SERVICE 12/02/2022

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For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel,and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We walk by faith, and not by sight! Pastor Jacob Mathew (57 ) has been promoted to his eternal home and went to be with Jesus on 11/24/2022 . He served as the assistant Pastor of the Mizpah Church of God. Pullad. He lived a life that exampled Jesus Christ, a life of servitude,faith,and love. He will be missed by his family, his wife Shiney,daughter Jesna Jacob and son Joel Jacob.

We kindly request for prayers at this time for the family. He is Survived by his mother, Thankamma Mathew, sister Mary Mathew, and brother Paul Mathew and family.


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Christian Organization Wins Legal Battle, Will Be Allowed to Hire Christians

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Just two months after the Wyoming Rescue Mission filed its federal lawsuit against state and federal agencies for threatening to punish the Christian nonprofit for hiring employees who share the ministry’s religious beliefs, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced they reached a favorable settlement in the case.

As part of the settlement, state officials acknowledged that the rescue mission, as a religious organization, is free to hire like-minded employees who share the ministry’s religious beliefs and mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through its homeless shelter, clothing voucher service, faith-based recovery programs, and life-rebuilding assistance to Casper residents.

“The First Amendment protects Wyoming Rescue Mission’s freedom to hire those who share its beliefs without being threatened and investigated by the government,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jacob Reed. “We’re pleased to favorably settle this case for the rescue mission so it can continue its critical work of serving some of Casper’s most vulnerable citizens and spreading the Gospel.”

On behalf of the faith-based organization, ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Wyoming Rescue Mission v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in the US District Court for the District of Wyoming.

According to court documents, the mission requires all employees to agree with its religious beliefs. Before being forced to remove it, the mission’s “Career Opportunities” webpage explicitly stated that “Employees are expected to commit to the precepts in our Statement of Faith, and to help the Mission fulfill its mission statement, vision statement, and ends statement.”

And the Mission’s employment application says: “The Mission considers every position one of ministry and a vital and valued part of our team. Therefore, it is essential that all employees of the Mission have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and subscribe to our Statement of Faith and Ministry Principles. Employees must be willing to lead and/or participate in Bible study, prayer, devotions, and sharing the Gospel.”

As CBN News reported, in 2020, the mission decided not to hire a self-proclaimed non-Christian for one of its Rescued Treasures Thrift Store associate positions. Included with this job is the responsibility of teaching the mission’s Discipleship Recovery Program guests how to spread the gospel and model Jesus Christ.

The lawsuit explains that the mission advised the applicant during the pre-screen interview that it is a Christian ministry and that all employees must agree with the Mission’s statement of faith and demonstrate Christian principles in their life and work as a condition of employment. The applicant responded that she did not have any faith.

The non-Christian applicant then filed a discrimination charge against the mission with Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to Decision Magazine.

State officials conducted a 16-month-long investigation to determine if the mission engaged in discrimination as prohibited by law.

The officials determined the mission likely violated the Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act of 1965 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for refusing to hire the non-Christian applicant, ignoring the fact that neither of those laws applies to faith-based organizations’ religiously based employment decisions.

After ADF attorneys filed suit, the government capitulated and agreed the mission can hire only “those individuals who agree with and live out the mission’s religious beliefs and practices.”

“Like-minded employees who share the mission’s purpose to spread the Gospel and uplift the Casper community by providing free meals, shelter, recovery programs, and job training are essential for the Wyoming Rescue Mission to continue its important work,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “Wyoming officials have rightly recognized that both state and federal laws protect religious organizations’ ability to hire those who share their beliefs.”

As part of the settlement in Wyoming Rescue Mission v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agreed to pay the rescue mission’s attorneys’ fees. In light of the settlement, the court dismissed the EEOC from the case and signed a consent decree settling the case with the state.

A press release from the ADF revealed that in 2021, the mission served 60,862 free meals to the public; provided 41,037 beds for men, women, and children; enrolled 92 Discipleship Recovery Program participants; offered 5,597 case management sessions, and gave 1,208 thrift store vouchers worth $39,649.92 that provided free clothing and essentials to families and guests in need.

John G. Knepper, one of more than 4,600 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, served as local counsel for the Wyoming Rescue Mission.
Sources:BREAKING CHRISTIAN NEWS

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