Fighting for Christian values, N.C.’s ‘well-kept secret’ asks for help
    June 18 2013 by L.A. Williams, Christian Action League

    Name a topic, – alcohol and drugs, sex education, gambling, human trafficking, marriage and parenting, religious freedom, sanctity of human life – and rest assured that a bill has been filed on it in your state government. More than 1,700 have been filed this year.
     
    Without camping out at the General Assembly, how can Christians hope to keep pace with what’s proposed, much less influence the legislative landscape?
     
    Enter the Christian Action League of North Carolina (CAL).
     
    Formed in 1937 by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), this non-profit organization is proclaiming the gospel in the state capital to lawmakers and bringing the Christian worldview to bear on the legislation they consider.
     
    Initially formed by the BSC to address alcohol policy, the Interdenominational Allied Church League broadened its focus to become CAL in 1958. Since then it has addressed virtually every critical social issue imaginable.
     
    For Mark Creech, an ordained Southern Baptist minister and the organization’s executive director for the past 14 years, the challenge is often about making connections.
     
    “We research issues to connect lawmakers with information that will help them make better decisions,” he said. “At the same time, we help believers across the state connect with those who represent them to make sure their voices are heard.”
     
    “Our nation is in peril today because there is a disconnect between the principles of Christianity and the principles of civil government,” he added, lamenting that some Christians have abandoned the public square, mistakenly believing that they shouldn’t be involved in politics.
     
    He said believers should neglect neither the call to evangelize nor the admonition to be “salt” in the culture as the commands go hand in hand.
     
    In addition to monitoring bills that are filed, – researching potential positive or negative effects and measuring how proposed laws line up with biblical principles – CAL produces informational handouts for lawmakers, and Creech testifies before committees in both the N.C. House and Senate, as well as working one-on-one with lawmakers about the merits of a bill.
     
    “I call on [CAL] regularly for background information on bills and issues that come before the House,” said Speaker Pro Tem Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake). “CAL’s expertise is helpful in identifying the issues and the players.”
     
    A typical day may find Creech racing from one committee meeting to another to promote a pro-life bill or to squelch the latest proposal to expand gambling. In between, he’s likely penning a newspaper editorial, networking with another non-profit on an issue of mutual concern or putting together a weekly email update to make sure Christians know what’s happening in their state capital and how they can have an impact.
     
    In the midst of it all, he’s still ministering, making connections that he hopes lead lawmakers and others at the Capitol building closer to Christ. 
     
    “Rev. Creech seems to arrive just when we need him most,” said Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union). “Sometimes he stops by the office, but most often I see him in the hallways, traversing the bridge between the two legislative buildings, or he stops to chat in one of the atrium lobbies – always with a smile, a warm handshake and a much-needed friendly look.
     

    Financial challenges

    While the halls of the legislative buildings are full of highly-paid lobbyists from the gambling and alcohol industries, abortion promoters and other businesses all trying to bend the ears of lawmakers, CAL provides a unique voice calling for decisions to be made based on God’s Word. Governed by a volunteer board of directors and with just two full-time staff members, CAL relies on some part-time and contract help to accomplish its goals.
     
    Although the organization receives $10,000 a year from the BSC, the majority of funding comes through donations from churches and individuals, and CAL struggles to meet its monthly budget.
     
    “The challenge is that we can’t be at the Legislature making a real difference and out soliciting financial help at the same time,” said Creech.
     
    “We try to balance these duties as best we can, but sometimes we feel like [CAL] is a well-kept secret. It’s time people knew what we’re about and why we exist.
     
    “We’re your lobbyist, your public policy organization, advocating for those eternal values that are important to you.”
     
    He said if each Baptist church in N.C. would give just $100 a year, it would more than fund CAL’s current needs and secure its future. “In this difficult economy, we are now suffering for funds and deep in debt by more than $17,000 and need that $100 contribution right away.
     
    “Otherwise, God forbid, this great work could fail. There is nowhere else we can cut our budget. We’re at a tipping point and it’s either we hear from our friends or we sink,” Creech said.
     
    “Sending that $100 check and then putting the CAL in your budget for just the same amount the next year would certainly make us much more effective because we wouldn’t have to spend so much time fundraising. Our efforts could be focused entirely on impacting legislators and legislation for Christ, while also engaging the public from a strong Christian worldview about the significant social issues of our time.” he added.
     
    To find out more about the Christian Action League and how you can make an impact in Raleigh and beyond, log onto www.christianactionleague.org. Donations can also be made via the organization’s website. You may also reach them at (919) 787-0606 or email office@thechristianactionleague.org. To write or send a contribution to CAL by mail, write to: Christian Action League of North Carolina, 809 Spring Forest Road, Suite 1000, Raleigh, NC 27609.
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – L.A. Williams is a correspondent for CAL.)
     

    What bills/issues are being discussed?

     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – This is list of issues and bills being monitored, supported or opposed by the Christian Action League of North Carolina (CAL). CAL provided this information.)
     
    ALCOHOL & DRUGS:
    S-657 Stop methamphetamine production
    This bill would make any drug containing pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine a Schedule III controlled substance.
     
    H-610 Modify requirements of in-stand beer sales
    This bill will allow in-stand beer sales in venues with at least 3,000 seats during professional sports events, CAL reports.
     
    H-532 No drinking in EMS and law enforcement vehicles
    In addition to prohibiting alcohol use in these vehicles, the bill would make it a crime to drive one of these vehicles while alcohol remains in the driver’s system.
     
    H-536 Ignition interlock required/all DWIs
    This bill would require anyone convicted of an impaired driving offense to have an interlock device installed on their car’s ignition before getting a limited driving privilege.
     
    H-813 Prohibited imitation controlled substances
    This bill would deal with the manufacture, possession, sale, use and delivery of “fake drugs,” substances that are substantially similar in chemical structure to a controlled substance and purported to act like that substance.
     
    H-702 Tourism ABC permits
    This bill would create an “end run around current local option alcohol laws,” CAL reports, usurping authority from local voters in determining whether alcohol should be sold in a specific community.
     
    H-781 Increase small brewery limits
    A bid to increase the small brewery limits from 25,000 barrels to 60,000, this bill would circumvent the state’s three-tier system of alcohol sales, allowing more breweries to bypass the role of the distributor, according to CAL.
     
    H-782 Fortified Malt Beverages Act
    An attempt to keep “alcopops” out of the hands of teens, this bill would clarify the definition of a fortified malt beverage, ensure that these products are taxed properly and sold only in ABC stores.
     
    H-829 Sale of “growlers” by certain ABC permittees
    This bill would allow wine shops and anyone with an on-premise or off-premise malt beverage permit to sell malt beverages in re-sealable 64-ounce containers.
     
    H-842 Spirituous liquor sales-distilleries
    This an attempt, CAL reports, to circumvent the Alcoholic Beverage Control system, which mandates that spirits be sold only in ABC stores.
     
    GAMBLING
    H-547 Tax & regulate sweepstakes
    This bill would legitimize video sweepstakes gambling. The N.C. Supreme Court upheld the state’s sweepstakes ban in December 2012.
     
    H-809 Game nights/nonprofit fundraisers
    Under this bill organizations could have casino nights, CAL reports. These casino nights could include both gambling and alcohol, as long as the ultimate goal was to raise funds for a non-profit.
     
    SEXUALITY & SEX EDUCATION
    H-694 Clarify input on reproductive health/character education
    This bill is an effort to restore abstinence until marriage as the expected standard for school-age children. CAL reports this bill would require parental signatures before certain instruction in reproductive health and safety could be taught in the classroom. It would also call for character education throughout the curriculum.
     
    S-658 UNC/dormitory rules
    In response to University of North Carolina’s (UNC) decision to allow so-called “gender neutral” housing, this bill would prohibit UNC from assigning members of the opposite sex to the same room, suite or apartment unless they are siblings or legally married.
     
    H-647 Nondiscrimination in state/teacher employment
    Promoted by Equality NC, this bill is aimed at adding special protections for homosexual, bisexual and transgender state employees and local boards of education employees, CAL reports.
     
    H-429 & S-544 Nondiscrimination in state employment
    This bill would give special protections to homosexual, bisexual and transgender individuals on the state payroll. It would expand the provisions of H-647.
     
    EDUCATION
    H-944 Opportunity Scholarship Act
    This bill would earmark $10 million to provide grants of up to $4,200 for some 2,000 low-income students (those who qualify for reduced price lunches) to be used at the school of the parents’ choosing. In subsequent school years, the criteria would expand to include families with an income of up to 133 percent of that allowed in the free lunch program. 
     
    H-230S-189 Amend law defining home schools
    This bill updates the definition of home schools to reflect how the schools operate today. It would allow for co-operatives and other schooling options. This bill has passed the House and Senate.
     
    H-144 Homeschool education income tax credit
    This bill would grant home school families a tax credit of $1,250 per semester for each eligible child.
     
    HUMAN TRAFFICKING
    S-683 Safe Harbor/victims of human trafficking
    In addition to creating a “safe harbor” for victims of trafficking and minors sold into prostitution, this measure would toughen penalties for traffickers and help victims receive restitution, CAL reports.
     
    H-221 Increase penalties for human trafficking
    Among other provisions, this bill would make trafficking a Class E felony.
     
    H-825 Minor can’t be prosecuted for prostitution
    Similar to the Safe Harbor bill, this bill would prevent minors from being prosecuted for prostitution and would instead have them taken into temporary custody as abused juveniles and reported to the Department of Social Services.
     
    H-855 Human trafficking
    Similar to S-683, this bill would ensure that minors who are victims of human trafficking are treated as victims and provided with restitution.
     
    MARRIAGE & PARENTING
    S-518 Healthy Marriage Act
    This legislation would extend the waiting period for divorce to two years, allow couples to live together during that time and require them to attend courses, either together or separately with the hope of saving the marriage.
     
    H-711 Define Parental Rights Standard/Statutory Law
    A very short but important bill, this would confirm that “the liberty of a parent to direct the upbringing, education and care of his or her child is a fundamental right.”
     
    S-627 Study grandparent visitation rights
    This bill would set up a 10-member committee to study grandparent visitation rights and child custody.
     
    CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
    S-306 Capital punishment/amendments
    This legislation repeals the controversial Racial Justice Act while confirming the rights to appeal available to convicted murderers, CAL reports. It also codifies the N.C. Supreme Court decision that medical practitioners can take part in the administration of the death penalty without fear of being censured by their professional organizations.
     
    RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
    S-370 Respect for student prayer
    This legislation would clarify student rights to pray in school, prohibit prayer officially sanctioned by schools (in accordance with the United States Constitution) and require school employees to show respect for student led prayer.
     
    H-730 Modify religious employer exemption
    In response to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, this bills would support business owners who have moral objections to the use or provision of contraceptive drugs or devices.
     
    S-719 Student’s organizations/rights & recognition
    This bill would clarify that student organizations may determine the organization’s core functions and resolve any disputes. This would prevent colleges from demanding — in the name of non-discrimination — that organizations allow students opposed to their cause to take leadership positions within them.
     
    H-730 Health Care Conscience Protection Act
    A response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, this bill would modify certain laws pertaining to abortion and contraceptive health insurance coverage so that health care providers could not be forced to take part in procedures that result in abortion. It includes provisions similar to those in S-498 and H-730, CAL reports.
     
    H-735 Protect religious student groups
    Similar to S-719, this bill would clarify that student organizations have the right to determine their own internal affairs, selecting leaders and members and defining their doctrines, etc. This bill has passed the House.
     
    H-751 N.C. Religious freedom restoration
    Similar to federal legislation, this bill is an attempt to ensure that the free exercise of religion is not burdened unless the state has a compelling reason to do so.
     
    SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE
    S-691 Unlawful to assist another to commit suicide
    This bill would make it illegal to help someone kill himself by providing the means, participating in the act or helping plan the event.
     
    H-716 Clarify law/prohibit sex selective abortion
    This bill would fine a doctor at least $10,000 for performing or trying to perform an abortion “with knowledge or an objective reason to know” that the child’s gender is a significant factor in the pregnant woman’s seeking the abortion.
     
    S-308 Amend Woman’s Right to Know Act
    Among other provisions, this bill would require that doctors performing abortions remain on the premises and available to the patient until she leaves. It would also require the doctor to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic.
     
    HUNTING
    S-224 & H-360 Sunday hunting on private land
    This bill would allow hunting on Sunday on land owned by the hunter or on land for which the hunter has written permission to hunt. It would overturn the state’s 144-year-old ban on hunting on the Lord’s Day.
    6/18/2013 4:34:22 PM by L.A. Williams, Christian Action League | with 0 comments
    Filed under: bill, Christian Action League, government, values




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