November 2017 Public Policy Update

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Friends in Christ,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus!

Needless to say, it has again been a very active time in the world of public policy generally, and in the ever evolving relationship of Church and State, in particular. In this installment of One Voice, I’ll be touching on a number of noteworthy public policy developments over the last several months.

I realize your time is limited and you may not want to read this email and all its details in its entirety, but as the primary interpreter of the Two Kingdoms doctrine for your people, I’d urge you to at least read through the brief overviews below. Please keep the upcoming court cases in your personal and corporate prayers!

As we approach this season of Thanksgiving, surely one of the greater blessings God has given us is to live in a nation which offers us not only the freedom to worship according to the dictates of our conscience, but also the freedom to live out our beliefs in our daily lives. God grant that we may always enjoy this wonderful blessing so rare in the history of mankind!

In Christ,

Rev. Fred Hinz
LCMS Public Policy Advocate, MN Districts

  1. Religious Liberty
    On December 5 attorneys from ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) will argue the case of Jack Phillips and his business, Masterpiece Cakes, before the U.S. Supreme Court. This case focuses on the issue of religious freedom and freedom of conscience in the workplace and is likely to provide the defining legal precedent in this area for many years to come.
  2. Free Speech and Freedom from Compelled Speech
    Earlier this year, the State of California passed legislation that forces all Pregnancy Resource Centers in the state to advertise for the abortion industry by compelling them to post information regarding how and where to obtain an abortion. That law was challenged in court and just this past week the Supreme Court of the United State agreed to decide the constitutionality of the law. No date for the argument has yet been set.
  3. Clergy Housing Allowance
    In recent weeks, some have expressed concern about a preliminary ruling from a Federal District judge in Wisconsin, declaring the clergy housing allowance tax deduction to be unconstitutional. In all likelihood, when this ruling is finalized later this month, it will be stayed and it will begin to work its way through the courts and ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.
  4. Teaching the Two Kingdoms
    Looking for a resource to help teach adults about the Lutheran understanding of the proper relationship of Church and State? I’d highly recommend a video series produced by Lutheran Hour Ministries entitled The Intersection of Church and State and features Rev. Dr. Greg Seltz, former Lutheran Hour Speaker and current Director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty in Washington, DC.
  5. Congregational Public Policy Presentations
    The Minnesota South and North Districts currently have two presentations we’d love to share with your congregation. One focuses on the substance of and implications of the recent Trinity Lutheran Supreme Court ruling, and the other is designed to inform your people regarding the current push in many states to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
    These are presentations designed to fit in a normal Sunday morning Bible Study time frame, or any other time available on the congregational calendar. On receiving an invitation, I (or others trained on these issues) will be happy to come and give one or both presentations. If you’re interested, please call (507-317-9634) or e-mail (fred.hinz@mnsdistrict.org) me to arrange a mutually agreeable date.
  6. Issues of Human Sexuality and Marriage
    If you’re interested in hearing from several highly regarded Christian scholars as they discuss the pervasive and militant intrusions of the new sexual ideologies in our culture, you might consider attending a seminar at University of St. Thomas on December 11. Obviously, the topic will be approached from a Catholic perspective, but I believe Lutherans will also find it an edifying experience. For more details and to register please visit their website.