A Religious Liberty Victory, The Vanishing American Adult, Israel’s Six-Day War, D-Day and Other Milestones

SIGNS AND WONDERS

Religious Liberty Victory. The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a major victory for religious liberty yesterday. In a unanimous ruling, the high court ruled in favor of three Christian hospital systems that had been facing a lawsuit over funding of their pension plans. According to WORLD, “Employees of the hospitals claimed the institutions violated federal law by not fully funding their pension plans. The hospitals argued federal law has long recognized an exemption to the funding law for churches and faith-based institutions.” Justice Elena Kagan wrote the majority opinion. The opinion upheld the idea, long a part of tax law, that the definition of “church” can extend to hospitals and other organizations operated as a ministry of the church.

Vanishing American Adult. We have written often at BreakPoint about the phenomenon of “perpetual adolescence.” It goes by a variety of names, such as “Peter Pan syndrome” or “failure to launch.” In recent years we have also seen a variety of good books on the topic. I would recommend Diana West’s “The Death of the Grown-Up,” for example. But it’s not often that you find a sitting U.S. Senator who so thoughtfully engages an issue—any issue—as Sen. Ben Sasse engages this one. His new book, “The Vanishing American Adult,” combines his experience as a college president with his deep Christian commitment in ways that make compelling reading. You can read an excerpt of his book here.

Six-Day War. June 5 marked the 50th anniversary of Israel’s Six-Day War. The war with Egypt and Syria expanded Israeli territory and, many historians say, established Israel as a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. For the best short explanation of the war I’ve heard in a while, I recommend to you Mindy Belz’s interview at WORLD Radio, which you can hear here. On a personal note, I happened to be in Israel 10 years ago this week, on the 40th anniversary of the war. I was sitting at an outdoor restaurant in Tiberius overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Israeli Air Force jets did a flyover, a barge had been hauled a half-mile offshore, and a massive fireworks show began at dusk. I noticed that the restaurant was playing sweeping orchestral music to correspond with the fireworks show. Or at least that’s what I thought it was until I started listening more closely. It was the theme from “Gone with the Wind.” I leave you to draw your own conclusions about what that means.

More Milestones. This week also marks the 28th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests and crackdowns. Street protests took place in Hong Kong to commemorate the event, an event not officially acknowledged by the Chinese government. . . . Controversial evangelical leader Lonnie Frisbee was born on this date in 1949. He died of AIDS in 1993. I wrote about his life, and its lessons for the evangelical church, here. . . . And, of course, today is the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, when 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in the largest seaborne invasion in history. D-Day began the liberation of Europe from Nazi control, and was a vital step toward winning World War II.

Image copyright St. Martin’s Press.

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


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  • Phoenix1977

    “The opinion upheld the idea, long a part of tax law, that the definition of “church” can extend to hospitals and other organizations operated as a ministry of the church.”
    This might be a victory for religious liberty but at the same time it poses a threat to everyone else. Because, for example, churches do not have to accomodate LGBTs. So if a faith-based hospital is, for the law, a church those hospitals can refuse to admit and/or treat LGBTs. And not only LGBTs but basically everyone not being of that specific religion. So religious liberty may have achieved a victory but basic human rights and patient safety took a severe beating.

    • Joel Stucki

      You are incorrect. Churches do not have to EMPLOY LGBTs. They can’t deny them entrance to the building. In much the same way, a Christian hospital does not have to employ a gay doctor, but by law they are bound to provide treatment to any patient who enters.

      • Phoenix1977

        The ruling didn’t state “employ”. It said “accommodate”. And that reaches a lot further than just employment. Especially should the “First Amendment Defense Act” ever pass, since that part of very discriminatory legislation actually says everyone can deny every service in violation to their religion to everyone. Meaning a Christian doctor CAN deny treatment to an LGBT person, just as a muslim nurse can decide not to want to care for a jewish patient.
        So, if you don’t mind, I stay with my previous statement: a very dark day for basic human rights.

  • jason taylor

    Actually the contrary for if non governmental institutions are forbidden the authority to make their own rules society will not have the strength to resist government. It would be like a king forcing all the cities in his kingdom to tear down their walls.