Wednesday, November 25, 2015
It's hard not to be grateful with a job we love, working with wonderful people we enjoy, and getting invaluable feedback from all of you.
So, for Thanksgiving 2015, Jennifer and John offer holiday greetings and sentiments via iPhone video.
As we share what we're thankful for, we'd also love to hear what you're thankful for. Please take a minute to post your comments below!
Happy Thanksgiving from CBN's
John Jessup and Jennifer Wishon
While the race to the White House is already well on its way, the United States isn't the only country with a major general election in 2016.
Voters in Ireland expect to head to the polls in the spring. And although there's an ocean between us, their list of concerns isn't too far off from our own: the economy, real unemployment, and immigration.
The same can be said for social issues, like abortion. In the run up to the election, the Labour Party has pledged to repeal Ireland's 8th Amendment, which bans abortion.
Enter LA-based Irish filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney.
The husband-wife duo are producing an upcoming film about convicted abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who for decades ran what Pennsylvania officials called a "house of horrors" known for fatal botched abortions and deplorable sanitary conditions.
In the midst of the repeal effort, McElhinney and McAleer recently co-authored an opinion piece in the Irish Times documenting the effect the Gosnell case has had on others:
"Almost anyone who has learned more about the reality of abortion ... has come away with only negative feelings about the procedure," they wrote in the Times.
It's a sentiment they expressed to CBN News during an interview at their home in Southern California in May 2014.
"I think it will change the discourse [on abortion]," McAleer said. "People who have heard all the evidence have been changed by it. Two jurors who self-described 'pro-choice' are no longer pro-choice as a result of what they heard. The same is true for one of the journalists who covered the case."
Watch the original CBN News story here.
At the time of the interview with CBN News, the duo was in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign, declaring their effort to fund the movie was a "stand for truth."
McElhinney insists pro-choice factions take issue with the Gosnell case, in particular, because it will "affect people who used to think people should have complete, liberal access to these services."
"No matter who they are, I think that they have to reassess that after hearing this story," McElhinney told CBN News.
The pair acknowledge they themselves had always been "fairly disinterested" in abortion until they became familiar with the Gosnell case.
They now believe making the film crystallized the importance of open dialogue to have an honest debate about abortion ... a debate they're willing to engage here in the States as well as their native Ireland.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Jonathan Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst, sentenced to life in prison for selling classified U.S. secrets to Israel, has checked himself into a federal probation office in New York City. After serving 30 years of his sentence, Pollard was released on parole this week.
It's a case that's complicated U.S.-Israeli relations for as many years as Pollard served behind bars.
Over the years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to President Barack Obama for Pollard's release.
"The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard," Netanyahu said in a statement.
"After three long and difficult decades, Jonathan has been reunited with his family. May this Sabbath bring him much joy and peace," he continued.
Pollard's imprisonment has been a constant irritant between the United States and Israel and was even considered as a bargaining chip during peace talks.
In 1995, Israel granted Pollard Israeli citizenship, but his parole restrictions don't allow him to travel to Israel. They're terms his attorneys call "onerous and oppressive." He's challenging them in court.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
President Barack Obama calls the terror attacks on Paris a "terrible and sickening setback" in the fight against the Islamic State, still, he says the U.S. will not change its strategy or even expand it's military campaign against ISIS.
His announcement comes as the Islamic State releases a new video warning that Washington, D.C., would face similar attacks to those in Paris.
Despite new concerns among Americans, the president forcefully defends the vast majority of Muslims.
"ISIL does not represent Islam," President Obama says, "It is not representative in any way to the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of Muslims. To the degree that anyone would equate the terrible acts in Paris to the views of Islam, those kinds of stereotypes are counterproductive, they're wrong."
After the attacks in Paris, concerns are growing louder about the Syrian refugees that the United States is set to admit. In fact, a growing number of states are refusing to accept the refugees.
Meanwhile, some Republican presidential candidates suggest only Christian refugees facing slaughter by ISIS should be let in. Other candidates say the United States shouldn't accept any refugees from the Middle East citing national security concerns.
President Obama calls those suggestions "shameful" and un-American.
"When I hear folks say well maybe we should admit just the Christians and not the Muslims. When I hear political leaders suggesting there would be a religious test for which person who is fleeing from a war torn country is admitted, that's shameful. That's not American. That's not who we are," he continued.
Monday, November 02, 2015
Have you noticed that prayer has been in the news a lot lately? Now Beltway Buzz is jumping into the sometimes controversial topic of public prayer.
We say “sometimes” because it seems at times prayer offends hardly anyone. Think National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, which we hold annually to memorialize the victims of 9/11, the Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House, or when a friend or acquaintance acknowledges they’ve fallen into some type of hardship.
The common response? “I’ll keep you in my prayers.”
Yet just this week, a Washington state high school football coach was placed on administrative leave for personally praying on the field after games officially wrapped up.
Juxtapose that against newly minted Speaker Paul Ryan’s request, upon assuming his new role, that his House colleagues pray for each other and for deeper understanding.
Check out this Beltway Buzz Video Short we call, "The Tale of Two Washingtons."
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
A U.S. senator says people have become afraid of faith and prayer.
Sen. James Lankford says he thinks that's part of the problem in Washington state. That's where a school district has put high school football coach Joe Kennedy on paid administrative leave because of his tradition of kneeling and praying on the football field after games.
"A Christian coach can pray over their meal at lunch, can pray and kneel down at the end of a game and quite frankly," Lankford tells Beltway Buzz, "they can kneel down during the 4th quarter before a last second field goal and pray on the sidelines. That's just the nature of our own individual faith and they need to be protected."
Sen. Lankford and Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes (co-chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus), along with nearly 50 other members of Congress wrote a letter to the Bremerton school district expressing their concerns.
Watch Jennifer Wishon's full interview with Sen. Lankford in this Beltway Buzz Video Short:
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Led by the co-chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, nearly 50 members of Congress have signed on to a letter defending a high school football coach's right to pray after football games.
Joseph Kennedy is an assistant football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington state. For seven years he's prayed at the 50 yard line after games. Sometimes students choose to pray with him, but it's not required or expected. Earlier this month the Bremerton School District ordered Coach Kennedy to stop his practice of praying on the field after the games.
After the school's homecoming game, Coach Kennedy knelt by himself to pray after the game and was voluntarily joined by a crowd of others including coaches and members of the opposing team. One week later he was told that if he did so again he could be fired. School officials say Coach Kennedy's tradition of praying after games is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford and Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes led members of Congress to express their concern. Here's part of their constitutional reasoning why they say Kennedy is not violating the Establishment Clause and why the school may be violating Kennedy's constitutional rights.
"Among the most basic rights that Americans enjoy are the free exercise of religion, free speech, and the freedom of association. The Establishment Clause exists to ensure that the government cannot affirmatively impose or elevate one religion over another, However, it does not prohibit the government from referencing religion altogether, nor does it require that government officials proactively scrub all references of religion from the public square. Rather, the Establishment Clause ensures both that the government does not show preference to a certain religion, and that the government does not take away an individual’s ability to exercise religion."
If you would like to read the entire letter click here.
In a day and age of "political correctness," it appears fewer pastors are willing to engage society on today's toughest hot button issues.
But not Bishop T.D. Jakes.
With nearly 40 years of ministry under his belt, he's comfortable wading into controversial topics to challenge both believers and non-believers.
His willingness to broach difficult conversations is not too dissimilar to Christian forebearers the likes of Luther, Wesley, and others, who were willing to shine a light into the darkness and confront the excesses of culture.
Watch the videos below to see Bishop Jakes' take on issues like mental health, gun violence, and Christian-based films.
T.D. Jakes on Mental Illness
T.D. Jakes on Gun Violence
T.D. Jakes on Christian Films
Thursday, October 08, 2015
A U.S. senator who co-chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus wants to know why President Barack Obama's actions don't match his words when it comes to promoting religious freedom.
The president just appointed a special envoy for religious minorities in the Near East and south central Asia, five months after members of Congress urged him to do so.
Now, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford is concerned the position isn't being given the same gravitas as other envoys.
In a letter to President Obama he writes, "Within the State Department there are special envoys for climate change, the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, to promote the human rights of LGBT persons, and to promote Islamic cooperation.... most special envoys... report directly to you. It is my understanding the special adviser for religious minorities... will report to Ambassador Saperstein" (Ambassador Saperstein is the nation's Ambassador At-Large for International Religious Freedom).
You can read Sen. Lankford's full letter here.
This is just the latest grievance against President Obama when it comes to religious freedom.
Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mike Huckabee recently chided the president for bending over backwards to accommodate Muslims detained at Guantanamo Bay while turning his back on Christians who feel his administration is trampling on their religious freedoms.
"I'm just looking at the realities and saying, 'Could you show us a little love here?' If you really say you love us and you're one of us, give us a little affection," Huckabee told The Brody File.
We're seven years into Obama's administration and people still doubt his Christian faith. Recent polling shows 30 percent of Americans and nearly half of Republicans believe the president is Muslim.
Part of this disconnect is the Obama administration's disregard for the conscience of Christians when it comes to making policy. Remember the birth control mandate in Obamacare?
Sen. Lankford is asking the president to respond to his concerns by the end of the month.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Have you had a chance to see any of the blood moons that have decorated the heavens over the past year?
Blood moons are a somewhat common. What's rare is so many of them appearing so close together forming what's called a tetrad.
CBN's Erick Stakelbeck first reported on blood moons more than a year ago and his story went viral. It's been viewed more than a million times.
We wondered why Erick decided to cover blood moons and why he thinks so many people are interested.
Historically blood moon tetrads have coincided with major events for Israel and the Jewish people.
"I don't believe in coincidences" Erick says. "Fasten your seat belts."
Don't miss this Beltway Buzz Video Short with Erick Stakelbeck discussing blood moons.
Have you photographed any of the blood moons? We'd love to see your pictures and feature them here on Beltway Buzz.
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Want to learn more? Here are Erick Stakelbeck's news stories about the blood moons.