Tag: #FaithUnderFire

Choices toward planning for college – 2/15/24

Choices toward planning for college – 2/15/24

This is the time of year when many college-bound students are finalizing applications for which school they intend to go to in the fall.

Also at issue: how to pay for higher education, whether that is for incoming first-year students or those who are already at a college or university.

For advice on the decision-making processes, we sought the perspective of President Wayne Lewis of Houghton University in Houghton, New York. In this Family Life Interview, you will hear:

  • How the federal delays in this year’s one-application for financial aid computations (the online FAFSA form) has affected students, families and the schools — and best “next steps to take”
  • Timelines for applying to your preferred school(s), when financial aid determinations are made, and when someone can change their mind about which college to attend
  • How current students are great resources for sorting out where a new student can attend a place which fits them — whether they are liberal or conservative or moderate, whether they are Christian or not
  • The difference being colleges which teach their students “to think” versus places which teach students “what to think”

Faith Under Fire – PA Prolife – Maria Gallagher – 2/01/24

Faith Under Fire – PA Prolife – Maria Gallagher – 2/01/24

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week, by a narrow 4-3 vote, ruled that a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood is to be heard by a lower court. At issue is a question about whether Pennsylvania can restrict the state’s Medicaid funds only to pay for the abortions which are directly related to situations of rape, incest, or if the pregancy is a risk to the mother’s life. The dominant provider of abortions contends that Pennsylvania’s Medicaid policies over the past 20 years unconstitutionally harm the “rights” of poorer people.

The Commonwealth Court trial has not happened to decide the issue; the Supreme Court majority merely ruled that the case must be tried.

For an interpretation and perspectives on the case and its related issues, Family Life news producer Greg Gillispie spoke Monday with Maria Gallagher, legislative director of the PA Prolife Federation.


You can find more about PA Prolife’s work beyond this one court case on their website.



Faith Under Fire – A local take on pro-life/pro-abortion debates – 1/25/24

Faith Under Fire – A local take on pro-life/pro-abortion debates – 1/25/24

As the abortion industry and many politicians look to put abortion into state constitutions, many in the pro-life movement seek to redefine the debate.

Christina Fadden is president of Syracuse Right to Life. The day after the National March for Life in DC, that group and its partners held a local rally and March for the Onandaga County region. The Syracuse March (held Saturday, January 20) is the longest-running march in New York State.

In this Family Life interview leading up to that event, Fadden talks about the “right” to have an abortion, and how that belief system has become embedded in many people’s thoughts and much of the media coverage. Local groups are working to clarify and correct the terms, so that people go beyond a “right to choose” and more toward “human rights” for everyone, including unborn children.

Additional information:


Faith Under Fire – Long-term Lessons for Churches – 1/18/24

Faith Under Fire – Long-term Lessons for Churches – 1/18/24

What lessons learned during the “Covid Era” will help congregations thrive into the new future?

We have a return visit from Allison Norton of the Covid Religion Research Project, which is in the third year of a five-year study of 15,000 American congregations. In this new conversation Norton addresses how congregations are poised to either return to pre-pandemic patterns or use their relatively recent discoveries as springboards into faithful ministries.

There are divergent contexts in particular congregations and faith communities. Some are finding exhaustion and frustration are nudging people back toward wanting former programs and patterns. Norton says, though, and churches’ challenges from pre-2020 continue to happen. Other churches are maintaining some of the innovation and experimentation which Covid lockdowns forced upon them. She gives an example of a congregation which has had success with the elimination of large weekly worship events.

The research has found one key factor which is determining congregational health and vitality for current times and moving forward from here: whether or not there is an attitude of optimism.

Allison Norton is a faculty research associate for Hartford International University, based in Connecticut. She also directs the Pastoral Innovation Network of New England (PINNE).

This Lilly-funded study continues through 2025, taking surveys across various denominational and non-denominational churches, and doing in-depth analysis of church change since 2020. Reports, research results and recommendations are on the project’s social media and website: CovidReligionResearch.org , Facebook , X/Twitter , Newsletter

Congregational leaders and denominational networks can use these resources to foster ongoing evaluation, discussion and planning.


In addition to this podcast, you also can listen to our first interview with Allison Norton. That topic centered on how churches have rebounded short-term after however many months or years of shutdown, change and trying new methods.

Faith Under Fire – Christians support for the Jewish State – 01/11/24

Faith Under Fire – Christians support for the Jewish State – 01/11/24

“We have to understand that this is a SPIRITUAL battle, expressed in a MILITARY attack.”

— Susan Michael, on the October 7, 2023, attacks made against the nation of Israel

This week is the 13th week since Hamas militants poured across Israel’s southern border — killing, assaulting and kidnapping citizens of Israel and other nations.

This week, Greg Gillispie interview Susan Michael, the USA director of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. That ministry is praying for and offering tangible forms of support and relief in the Middle East. Some 300,000 citizens and settlers there have fled their homes in these three months, to escape the violence and threats.

ICEJ is also active to address the growing anti-Jewish rhetoric and threats to Jews everywhere.

Michael says Christians — individually and through their churches — need to boldly and confidently speak out against antisemitic violence, demonstrations and hatred. In this “Faith Under Fire” feature, she offers three practical steps which people of faith can undertake, wherever they live.  

This conversation referred to websites such as these:

  • IsraelAnswers.com: Ways for Christians and non-Christians to respond to propaganda which fails to tell the truth about Jews or the nation of Israel
  • Stop Antisemitism:  Action steps to battle against demostrations, protests and threats against America’s Jewish communities
  • Prayer Initiative: The call for the world to pray in these spiritual, cross-cultural, and military battles
  • icejusa.org: The main website of ICEJ, including the 30-year history of this groups active support of Israel and Israelis
Faith Under Fire – Post-Covid Rebounds – 01/04/24

Faith Under Fire – Post-Covid Rebounds – 01/04/24

A five-year research project on congregational vitality began just before the Covid shutdowns began in 2020. (The timing gives informative snapshots of the effect of the closing of church buildings, and the move of church life to electronic connections. It also gives us a long-view of how congregations have rebounded, and why some churches are seeing grow in the new era.)

That research has data from across the U.S. on how local churches fared during the pandemic, and analysis on how congregations have bounced back. Although local situations obviously vary, the national average is that overall worship attendance has nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels. When those who worship online or through social media are included, the average church which offers at least one virtual option is seeing increased participation.

Allison Norton of Hartford International University joins Family Life to talk about the Religion Research Project, how various kinds of congregations are faring now, and what lessons church leaders can take from the Covid era, and what “next steps” seem to be most effective for churches and church networks.

Allison Norton is a faculty associate at Hartford International, and oversees its Covid Religion Research project.

She also directs the Pastoral Innovation Network of New England.

The Covid Religion Research website offers insights from this survey of 15,000 congregations, a research library, and information guides for congregational and denominational leaders. You will find those resources here. The Lilly-funded project also offers a newsletter for past results and future updates.


Faith Under Fire – 2023’s Abortion Battles – 11/30/23

Faith Under Fire – 2023’s Abortion Battles – 11/30/23

Today’s “Faith Under Fire” Feature on Family Life features analysis of how the pro-abortion and pro-life movements have adapted this year, after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v Wade, sending the lawmaking decisions back to each of the 50 states.

Jim Harden is President of Compass Care, which operates pregnancy care centers in Albany, Rochester and Buffalo. One of their facilties was firebombed and vandalized, showing how opposition to the pro-life movement has been harsher and more violent in multiple locations across the country this year. Harden tells Family Life that those who are most strident in making abortions legal are less concerned about women’s rights or women’s health care, but more interested in maintaining their profitable businesses.

He quotes research that indicates that the number of Americans who believe at least some restrictions or oversight of abortion providers has grown this year to the largest percentage in our lifetimes.

There also are new statistics this week that show 32,000 more babies were saved in 2023 than the preceding year.

Incurable Faith – Joy amid Longsuffering – Andrea Herzer (#2) – 11/16/23

Incurable Faith – Joy amid Longsuffering – Andrea Herzer (#2) – 11/16/23

Family Life’s “Faith Under Fire

Andrea Herzer has been journaling about her life with multiple illnesses, debilitating health issues, and a strong inspiring reliance on God. She compiled those writings into a devotional book to encourage others who are looking for that pathway to a life that overflows with the Lord’s sustaining love — no matter what happens with pain, or healing, or suffering, or loss.

Her book’s title recognizes the way that some diagnoses are labeled “incurable”. Yet, she emphasizes that hope and peace can infuse people who face cancer, chronic pain, multiple surgeries, a long convalescence, or any other health issue. Incurable Faith is a partner along that long journey.

This is our second conversation with Herzer. In this interview, she talks about her early days of waiting for healing, as she first sought a return to “normal”. That process of waiting and healing and abiding has now stretched across 20 years. Weaving together her experience and multiple Biblical truths, she offers what she has learned about keeping your spirit at peace. She also encourages caregivers and family members who accompany patients through such processes.

Also: what friends and visitors from church do that is very unhelpful — plus recommendations on ways to be incredibly helpful amid the patience, impatience and loneliness of longsuffering.


You can also listen to our first conversation with Andrea Herzer, and you’ll find resources she recommends.


Resources and background:


Faith Under Fire – Medical Authoritarianism – 11/09/23

Faith Under Fire – Medical Authoritarianism – 11/09/23

Two years ago, there was a split among public opinion about the efficacy of Covid-19 protection methods. <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/group-scientists-workers-holding-tubes_7333734.htm#query=group%20scientists&position=4&from_view=keyword&track=ais">Image by pikisuperstar</a> on Freepik

Now, our guest contends that even more widespread distrust of public health officials bodes a dangerous future, should another widespread epidemic arise.

A Christian psychology professor says the challenge came when scientists went beyond measuring and analyzing data, also making decisions which should be the prerogative of the elected leaders, or of the people.  Luke Conway is on the faculty of Grove City College. He says it became hard to “follow the science” when some of the scientists were against doing good science by refusing to consider other scientific evidence and other researchers’ observations. Conway contends that most of those who lean into authoritarianism, censorship or name-calling are primarily motivated by fear. He quotes Scripture that “perfect love casts out fear.” [1 John 4:8]

In this Family Life Interview, he also emphasizes the roles for politicians and the general public to take all the available information — from all angles and emphases — and come up with the best decisions. He ends the conversation with his prescription for navigating social strife and cultural disagreements. A Christ-mandated involvement will bring about restoration, consensus and hope — when people of faith start with a good dose of humility, a commitment to love those who disagree, and seek the best welfare of the city, nation or community.


“Early in the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci is reported to have said to Donald Trump: “I just do medical advice. I don’t think about things like the economy and the secondary impacts. I’m just an infectious diseases doctor. Your job as president is to take everything else into consideration.”  —Luke G. Conway, writing for the Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City, PA. His full essay on the topic (using a sports rulebook analogy) is e-published here.

Luke Conway is also a fellow at the Institute for Faith and Freedom, and frequently writes about academic research and socio-political trends.


Freedom of Speech & Freedom of Humor – 11/02/23

Freedom of Speech & Freedom of Humor – 11/02/23

The so-called “Cancel Culture” seeks to silence divergent voices, and among those who are being squeezed are today’s humorists.

Comedy outlets — from television shows to magazines to stand-up clubs to websites — are facing increasing pressure to “toe the line” drawn by the “powers that be”.

One proponent of free speech is the leader of the satirical humor website The Babylon Bee. CEO Seth Dillon talks about political speech, social commentary, and the context of public dialogue in our culture. In this special Family Life Interview, Dillon tells about how The Bee was booted off of what was then called Twitter, after it posted a joke about a White House advisor.

Dillon talks about:

  • How humor is one of the best ways to speak the truth, especially when many others aren’t
  • Why many people — with public roles or not — have been frightened or shamed into silence
  • The state of comedy today, and what it says about us
  • Highlights of The Bee’s absurd jokes … which ended up becoming true, which he considers absurd.
  • Why TV shows, writers and online comedians need to skewer the foibles of Democrats and Republicans and social movements of all types.


Seth Dillon says his experience with deplatforming and censorship has placed him on the front lines of the battle for free speech in the public square. In addition to owning and writing for The Bee, Dillon travels the country to speak at conferences and college campuses about the effectiveness of humor, the “moral imperative of mockery”, and the dangers of silencing competing voices. Some of his videos are posted here. The website started as a Christian satire e-publication.

Dillon is in Pennsylvania next week to speak at the “Friends of the Family” Banquet of the Pennsylvania Family Institute. His presentation is Monday, November 6, at Hershey.



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