|April 30, 2010
|Terms ‘mother and father’ removed from birth certificate in UK
(Christian Telegraph) Two homosexual activists posed proudly in front of cameras as the first same-sex parents in Britain to jointly sign a birth certificate, reports Christian Concern for our Nation.
Natalie Woods, 38, gave birth to Lily May Betty Woods in Brighton earlier this month through the use of sperm given by a registered donor. Her lesbian partner, Elizabeth Knowles, 47, is named on the certificate instead of the biological father.
The couple were able to take advantage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 which came into effect at the beginning of this month. The Act entitles people in same-sex relationships to both be treated as equal parents of a child. Until the law changed, homosexual couples could not put both of their names on a child conceived by a donor.
Neither of the women are described as ‘mother’ on the certificate as the words ‘mother and father’ have been scrapped from some birth certificates—the practice for the past 170 years—and the lesbians are listed as Lily May`s ‘parents’ instead.
Miss Woods, who lives with her lesbian partner in Brighton, East Sussex is currently on maternity leave from her job as services manager at the city`s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Switchboard, a counselling service.
Stonewall, the homosexual lobby group, welcomed the change in the law and said it was a much needed ‘fairer’ system for homosexuals.
Read the entire article here.
|April 30, 2010
|Marvel/DC Comics Illustrator Creates Pro-Life Comic Book
(LifeSiteNews) – Professional illustrators come in all shapes and sizes, but very few of them have a pro-life or Christian perspective. But that is something that Dan Lawlis, a professional illustrator for over 20 years who has created comic book art for companies like Marvel and DC Comics, wants to change.
Lawlis is endeavoring to use the internet to bring a new comic book vision to the world, and has made his first go at the effort with the comic called “Orange Peel” – a story set in a technologically advanced future, where evil aliens plot to take-over the neighboring planet Godderth for conquest. However, they first plan to make conquest easy by getting the inhabitants of Godderth to abandon their morality, destroy the family unit, and become so morally impoverished that they will welcome their would-be conquerors with open arms.
The premise of the book is that somewhere in the future, human beings learned how to transport themselves to distant planets, but the transportation led to transformations in their appearance, making them alien-like.
The comic’s artwork is visually stunning and appealing, and little wonder: Lawlis has worked on characters like Spiderman, the Hulk, X-Men and more.
But those characters, he said in an e-mail to LifeSiteNews.com (LSN), are more or less atheistic in their outlook. Instead, he was looking for a character that would appeal to comic book and science fiction fans and help introduce a pro-life Christian message “into what is mostly an anti-Christian atheist entertainment culture.”
The main character, “Paul Roman” wears an orange jumpsuit with a “3” emblazoned on the front – a reference to the Trinity - drives a futuristic roadster called “Orange Peel,” and engages in sharing the Good News with a bunch of alien thugs on Godderth, who call themselves “the Red Menace.”
For Lawlis, this is his first attempt in a goal of creating a product that has a Christian/pro-life message within it, but can be accessible to a mainstream audience. While he admits he may not yet have hit the mark, he hopes to improve the comic with input and ideas from pro-life advocates.
“What I am asking for is feedback/support from the Pro-Life community,” said Lawlis. “The art community is very pro-abortion and I don`t think my comic book will be received well by them,” adding that he may face repercussions in the industry as well.
The comic book can be viewed here. Interested viewers can contact Lawlis with advice and constructive criticism through the Orange Peel 3 website: www.ORANGEPEEL3.com
|April 29, 2010
|Prop 8 trial could wrap up on June 16
(AP) The federal trial to determine if California`s same-sex marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution may wrap up in June after a months-long hiatus, the judge said Wednesday.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker tentatively scheduled the long-delayed closing arguments in the case for June 16. After hearing more than two weeks of testimony in January, Walker had wanted time to review all the evidence before hearing lawyers give their wrap-ups.
But the break dragged on while civil rights groups that opposed the voter-approved measure fought turning over internal documents from the 2008 campaign to Proposition 8`s sponsors. The groups, Equality California and the American Civil Liberties Union, finally agreed yesterday to supply the disputed documents.
Yusef Robb, a spokesman for the gay rights group that spearheaded the case, says there may be one final hurdle to the trial`s end.
Protect Marriage, the coalition of religious and social conservative groups that qualified the ban for the ballot and is now defending the measure in court, have asked Walker to strike some of the e-mails and memos written by Proposition 8 supporters that already were introduced as evidence in the trial.
The materials include some of the trial`s most explosive elements, such as writings that claimed gays are more likely to be pedophiles and that allowing them to wed would cause young people to become homosexual.
Lawyers for Protect Marriage
told the judge in court papers filed last week that allowing the documents to remain in the trial record would violate the First Amendment freedom of association rights of the measure`s supporters.
Walker is presiding over a lawsuit brought by two gay couples seeking to overturn Proposition 8.
|April 29, 2010
|California Personhood Amendment on Abortion Fails to Qualify for 2010 Ballot
(LifeNews) Organizers of the personhood amendment in California announced today that they failed to obtain enough signatures to qualify it for the 2010 ballot. The amendment would define a person as a human being at the moment of fertilization and would have challenged the status of legal abortions.
In the Golden State, the California Civil Rights Foundation submitted language to the state attorney general for what it called the Human Rights Amendment.
Founded by Walter Hoye, a black pro-life pastor who has been unfairly jailed for protesting abortion outside a local abortion center, the group hoped to get the measure before state voters.
The group needed 694,355 signatures to qualify for the 2010 ballot but brought in less than 600,000 signatures despite California`s sizable population.
"We were so very, very close," Hoye told LifeNews.com today.
"What a valiant and noble effort it was to fight for the life of the pre-born child with you,` he said about the pro-life advocates who got involved in the campaign. "I want to express what a pleasure and a privilege it was to meet and work with all of you. Please know that we love you and have prayed for each of you."
Hoye said he has been asked where the personhood movement in California goes from here and Hoye didn`t have any specific answers. But, the pastor said he would be looking to God for direction.
Some pro-life groups have spoken out against the tactic of floating personhood amendments -- not because they oppose personhood for unborn children but because they find them strategically unsound.
Apart from legal concerns that the personhood measures will not accomplish their intended goals, they also say they will be overturned in court and add to the pro-Roe v. Wade case law for legal abortions.
Any such measure would likely find its way to the Supreme Court, where abortion advocates have at least a 5-4 majority and would declare such measures as unconstitutional.
Although California voters will not have a chance to consider the amendment, Colorado voters will once again consider a state ballot measure that would define unborn children as persons starting at conception.
The Colorado Secretary of State evaluated the second set of signatures Personhood Colorado leaders submitted.
This is the second time Colorado residents will vote on a personhood amendment after the first one failed by nearly a 3-1 margin.
In April, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann notified the backers of the personhood amendment in Mississippi that the state ballot measure received enough signatures.
The amendment is the fourth ballot initiative since 1992 to fulfill the requirement of 89,285 voter signatures.
"The term `person` or `persons` shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof," it says.
|April 29, 2010
|Explaining health reform: new insurance exchange will play major role
(HealthyCal) It will be years before the new health insurance exchange at the heart of the federal health reform passed in March rolls out in California. But decisions being made now could shape how that exchange looks and works, the health benefits it makes available to consumers, how much Californians pay for their coverage and the roles played by the government and the private insurance industry.
Democrats in the California Legislature have signaled with their early proposals that will try to create an exchange with a large dose of government intervention, with a board appointed by the governor and state lawmakers that would have the power to set benefits, rates, and cost-sharing and regulate the administrative costs of insurance companies that want to sell their policies through the exchange.
The idea behind the exchange is to provide a place for individuals and small businesses to pool their risk and gain the kind of market power now available only to large groups like government and big private employers.
The exchange could simply be a bare-bones online marketplace where insurers list their products and buyers come to make purchases. Or it could be something that begins to resemble the “public option” that Democrats were pushing during the debate over federal reform but eventually dropped before their bill gained final passage.
Assembly Bill 1602 by Assembly Speaker John Perez will be the vehicle for the Assembly’s version of the exchange, at least for now. In the Senate, SB 900, by Health Committee chairwoman Elaine Alquist, is the bill to watch.
AB 1602 is the more ambitious of the measures at the moment.
The exchange in AB 1602 would, at a minimum:
–Certify health insurance companies to participate in the exchange, and decertify those that were no longer allowed to sell their products through this pool;
–Operate a toll-free telephone hotline for consumers who need assistance;
–Maintain an Internet web site where consumers could get standardized information to compare the plans;
–Create an electronic calculator consumers can use to determine the full cost of their coverage, including premiums, deductibles and co-payments;
–Rate the available plans;
–Inform consumers about eligibility requirements for public programs such as Medi-Cal or Healthy Families and enroll them in those programs if they qualify.
But those are only the basic duties the bill envisions for the exchange. The exchange could also do much more, if the state determines that federal law allows it. The expanded duties include:
–Determine who is eligible to buy insurance through the exchange;
–Set standards and selection criteria for health plans that want to sell through the exchange, including setting “reasonable limits” on their administrative expenses;
–Determine the scope of coverage for consumers who buy insurance through the exchange;
–Set premium schedules, process applications, collect premiums, and administer subsidies to low-income consumers and rates paid to the insurance companies;
–Determine the rates paid to the health plans and approve cost-sharing provisions for consumers;
The potential scope of the proposed exchange — setting benefit levels and regulating rates, cost-sharing and administrative costs — has raised eyebrows within the insurance industry. In a letter to the Assembly Health Committee, the California Association of Health Plans raised questions about the bill, suggesting that it might go beyond what is allowed under federal law.
“All of these details point towards an Exchange that is intended to be at its core a purchaser of services,” wrote Charles Bacchi, the association’s executive vice president.
In an interview, Bacchi said the group had not yet taken a position on AB 1602 but views that bill and its Senate counterpart as crucial to shaping the future of health insurance in California.
“These are very important decisions,” he said. “It is really about much, much more than just complying with federal law. It a fundamental decision about what the market looks like in the future in California. The federal subsidies come through in 2015, but the decisions we make today and next year and the year after will build up how this exchanges handles people purchasing insurance, how it handles the subsidies, the basic nature of the exchange and how it’s governed.”
Peter Harbage, a health policy consultant who has closely followed the health reform debate and legislation, said he thinks the federal law is broad enough to allow California to create an exchange with vast powers over the insurance industry.
“My sense is that the federal language in a lot of these cases is really just a floor,” Harbage said. “It is very broad. It talks about a limited role for the exchanges but there is nothing by design to preclude the staes from being more aggressive with their oversight, their contracting, what they want insurance companies to provide in order to be a part of the exchange. Insurers don’t have to participate if they don’t want to, if they think the requirements are too strong.”
AB 1602 Page 4:
h) Grant a certification attesting that, for purposes of
the individual responsibility penalty under existing
federal law, an individual is exempt from the individual
requirement or from the penalty imposed because:
i) There is no affordable qualified health plan
available through the Exchange, or the individual’s
employer, covering the individual; or
ii) The individual meets the requirements for any other
such exemption from the individual responsibility
requirement or penalty;
i) Transfer specified information to the Secretary of the
j) Provide to each employer the name of each employee who
ceases coverage under a qualified health plan during a plan
year (and the effective date of such cessation).
|April 29, 2010
|Supreme Court critical in domestic partnership case
(Los Angeles Times) Social conservatives can usually count Justice Antonin Scalia as a faithful ally on the Supreme Court. But Wednesday, Scalia had only sarcasm for opponents of Washington state`s domestic partner law, who wanted to overturn the law through a referendum without having their names made public.
"Oh, this is such a touchy-feely, oh so sensitive" point of view, Scalia said. "You know, you can`t run a democracy this way, with everybody being afraid of having his political positions known."
"I`m sorry, Justice Scalia, but the campaign manager of this [Washington state] initiative had his family sleep in his living room because of the threats," said James Bopp, a prominent Indiana lawyer who persuaded the justices last October to temporarily block the release of the names and schedule arguments for Wednesday.
Supporters of the referendum had gathered 138,000 signatures in their successful effort to put it on last November`s ballot. Supporters of domestic partnership were planning to put the names online in an attempt to instigate "uncomfortable" conversations.
Leaders of the referendum, which ultimately failed at the ballot box, said they were fearful of retaliation from gay-rights advocates, pointing to the abuse heaped on financial backers of California`s ban on gay marriage through Proposition 8.
On Wednesday, Bopp underwent a barrage of questions from what appeared to be an unusually united court, with liberals and conservatives alike wondering how they could create a right of privacy in the political process based on the 1st Amendment`s guarantee of free speech, as Bopp advocated.
"The 1st Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate, or to take part in the legislative process," Scalia lectured Bopp.
"You are asking us to enter into a whole new field where we have never gone before," said Scalia, whose vote probably would be crucial to Bopp`s winning his case.
"Is there [not a] public interest in encouraging debate on the underlying issue" by releasing the names? asked Justice John Paul Stevens in his last scheduled oral argument before retirement.
Only Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. spoke up clearly for Bopp`s position, asking if laws mandating the release of a petition signer`s telephone number or religion would be constitutional.
But just as Scalia seemed to switch roles, generally liberal Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he was concerned that civil rights activists in the South in the 1950s might have been bombed or boycotted if they had petitioned the school board for integration.
"Now, is there no 1st Amendment right in protecting those people? And if there is, how does it differ from your case?" Breyer asked Washington Atty. Gen. Robert M. McKenna.
McKenna said such situations should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Breyer did not clearly indicate how he would vote.
While roughly 20 states have disclosure laws similar to Washington`s, McKenna said, California does not. But the nastiness after the success of Proposition 8, as well as the state`s frequent use of referendums, was in the background of Wednesday`s arguments.
"The state of California has very complicated referendum and initiative matters," said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is from Sacramento.
"Don`t you think it`s relevant for the public to know that, say, a public employees union had paid solicitors to put…signatures on the ballot, or that the Chamber of Commerce, the National Assn. of Manufacturers, had paid solicitors to put [them] on the ballot? Isn`t that part of assessing the reasons why this initiative was proposed? And isn`t that vital to the voters… in making an informed decision?" Kennedy asked.
|April 29, 2010
|House votes on option for Puerto Rico to become 51st state
(WorldNetDaily) A move is afoot to grant statehood to Puerto Rico, and a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives tomorrow may put the island on a path to becoming the nation`s 51st state.
Democrat Pedro R. Pierluisi, Puerto Rico`s pro-statehood delegate to Congress and former co-chair of President Obama`s 2008 presidential campaign in Puerto Rico, is sponsor of H.R. 2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act. The act has 181 co-sponsors.
"When I introduced this bill, I pledged to undertake every effort to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico finally have the opportunity to express themselves about the island`s political status in a congressionally authorized vote," Pierluisi said last week. "Like all the battles I have fought in Congress – from the allocation of ARRA funds for Puerto Rico, to the inclusion of the island in the health-care reform legislation – I have not rested for a single moment. Today I am pleased to say that H.R. 2499 will have its day on the House floor, and I am confident that the legislation will be approved overwhelmingly."
Under H.R. 2499, Puerto Ricans would vote on the issue of statehood yet again. Puerto Ricans have voted against statehood three times since 1967, preferring their present status as an independent commonwealth in association with the U.S.
The last statehood vote, or plebiscite, held on Dec. 13, 1998, failed to yield a majority vote on any of the five options: enhanced commonwealth (0.29 percent), statehood (46.4 percent), independence (2.5 percent), free association (0.06 percent) and none of the above (50.3 percent).
The commonwealth status allows the 4 million mostly Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans to benefit from the protection of the U.S., but they are not required to pay federal income taxes on income they earn from island sources. However, they do pay federal payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. They currently do not vote in presidential elections and have non-voting representation in Congress.
However, some say statehood advocates are "rigging" the voting process to ensure Puerto Rico becomes a state.
In September, the New York Post reported Sen. Jose Hernandez-Mayoral of the island`s minority Popular Democratic Party declared, "Behind this innocuous bill lies a fully thought out assault on Congress to designate the island the 51st state. … With the commonwealth option out of the ballot, statehood is finally, albeit crookedly, assured a victory."
The bill calls for a two-stage vote. In the first stage, Puerto Ricans would be asked to mark one of the following two options:
1) Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of political status. If you agree, mark here XX.
2) Puerto Rico should have a different political status. If you agree, mark here XX.
"The clear hope is that those favoring full independence – which normally draws at most 5 percent of the vote – will combine with those favoring statehood, and outpoll those who want to remain a commonwealth," explains Eddie Garcia, member of the National Advisory Board of ProEnglish in his column published by the New York Post.
If voters choose to change political status, Puerto Ricans would be offered the following choices in a second vote:
1) Independence: Puerto Rico should become fully independent from the United States. If you agree, mark here XX.
2) Sovereignty in Association with the United States: Puerto Rico and the United States should form a political association between sovereign nations that will not be subject to the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution. If you agree, mark here XX.
3) Statehood: Puerto Rico should be admitted as a State of the Union. If you agree, mark here XX.
He explained that through electoral trickery, the people of Puerto Rico would be forced to essentially choose between statehood or independence on the second vote – possibly resulting in "a minority of Puerto Rican voters producing a false landslide vote for statehood."
Benefits of statehood
According to the General Accounting Office, half of all Puerto Ricans would qualify for food stamps and federal assistance under statehood.
"So Democrats are drawn to the prospect of a constituency likely to elect more Democrats to Congress," Garcia wrote. "Many Republicans are eager to sign on to the measure to show that they`re `pro-Hispanic.`"
In a recent commentary published by Roll Call, Roberto G. DePosada, former president of the Latino Coalition and senior adviser to the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, explained why he believes Puerto Rican politicians are rallying behind statehood.
"Why would Puerto Rican statehood leaders use such strong-arm tactics to force their way into the Union?" he asked. "One reason is that Puerto Rico`s government is deeply in debt and its economy is weighed down by a bloated public employment sector. Its PNP-led government is desperate. It recently had to furlough 30,000 government workers, and it hopes for a bailout from the U.S. Treasury that it could not hope to get as a commonwealth."
He continued, "Language in the referendum bill`s rationale is clear: `The economic model under the unincorporated territory [e.g. Commonwealth] political system has collapsed and the government has not been able to guarantee the right to work of thousands of public employees who now find themselves in the unemployment line after being laid off.`"
Additionally, ProEnglish opposes H.R. 2499 because it does not contain a requirement for Puerto Rico to adopt English as its official language as a pre-condition for statehood.
"If Puerto Rico were admitted as a state it would destroy our nation`s unity in English, and soon transform the U.S. into an officially bilingual country like Canada," the group warns.
Ann Shibler of the John Birch Society explains that Democrats would like to see Puerto Rico become a state because they stand to gain more seats in Congress.
"Because of Puerto Rico`s population, they could pick up many electoral votes as well, since more than 22 other states have smaller populations, which could in turn swing an election," she wrote.
In an article on RedState.com, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said because Puerto Rico has a population of more than 4 million people, it would receive two U.S. senators and six or seven House seats.
"But as long as there is 435 seat maximum in the House, if Puerto Rico receives six seats, then other states expecting to gain a seat after the 2010 Census would lose representation," he explained.
Asked whether adding another state would mean substantial costs to the federal government, Hastings replied, "A new state would come with significant costs – spending that would measure in the billions of dollar a year."
A 1997 Heritage Foundation analysis by Edwin Feulner warned that Puerto Rican statehood would increase entitlement spending on welfare, Medicare and Social Security by an estimated $3 billion per year. Even if Puerto Ricans paid federal income taxes, the tax revenue would not be enough to offset the added expenditures.
"With an average per-capita annual income of about $7,600, few Puerto Ricans would be required to pay any income taxes at all," Feulner explained.
Today, the median national income is around $17,000.
In a report this week, the Heritage Foundation noted that the legislation allows non-resident Puerto Ricans to vote on statehood. The bill states: "… all United States citizens born in Puerto Rico who comply, to the satisfaction of the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission, with all Commission requirements (other than the residency requirement) applicable to eligibility to vote in a general election in Puerto Rico."
"Residency requirements may be waived, because Puerto Ricans living in the states would naturally favor statehood for the Commonwealth," The Heritage Foundation reports. "This provision allows non-resident Puerto Ricans to undermine the will of the residents of the Commonwealth."
The U.S. Census American Community Survey reports more people of Puerto Rican decent live in the 50 states – more than 4.13 million – than live in Puerto Rico.
Hastings warned that many questions about the legislation have not been answered, and he believes the legislation is not ready for a vote.
"[T]here are a great many implications that aren`t being considered or even discussed," he said. "Congress owes it to the citizens of the 50 states and to the people of Puerto Rico to have a full, open debate and resolve these questions before voting on this bill. If this doesn`t happen, then representatives should vote `No.`"
|April 29, 2010
|Muslims Want Franklin Graham Removed from Capitol Prayer (May 6)
(Christian Post) Less than a week after Franklin Graham was disinvited from the Pentagon prayer event, the evangelist faces another attempt to remove him from a National Day of Prayer observation.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that is widely accused of having ties to terrorists, has called on congressional sponsors of the National Day of Prayer event on Capitol Hill to rescind Graham`s invitation to speak at the May 6 gathering.
CAIR denounced Graham as an “anti-Islam preacher” who sends a message of “religious intolerance.”
“Franklin Graham has the right to be an Islamophobe, but he does not have the right to a taxpayer-funded public platform,” said Corey Saylor, CAIR national legislative director, in a statement.
Despite the pressure to remove Graham, members of Congress involved in NDOP on Capitol Hill say they will not withdraw the invitation. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), who has sponsored the Congressional National Day of Prayer event at the Capitol for the past several years, and other lawmakers have stated that the invitation will stand, according to the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
“Suggesting Mr. Graham should be removed from a National Day of Prayer event because of his religious opinions is absurd,” said NDPTF chairman Shirley Dobson, in a statement Tuesday. “No one understands better the need for prayer at this critical juncture in our nation’s history.”
Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson, noted that Graham’s son is currently serving in the military overseas on his fourth combat tour. And the evangelist’s father, Billy Graham, has served the religious needs of Americans, including a dozen presidents, for decades.
“Moves to exclude any member of this great family from this prayer event represent everything that is wrong with the agenda of political correctness that is rampant in our country,” Dobson said. “Our nation’s founders wouldn’t have tolerated it, and neither should we.”
Graham is the co-honorary chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
Last Thursday, the army canceled Graham`s scheduled appearance at the Pentagon`s National Day of Prayer event because of concerns over past remarks he made about Islam.
After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Graham called Islam a “very evil and wicked religion.” He also made disparaging remarks about the Muslim faith in an interview with CNN’s Campbell Brown in December 2009.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, on behalf of Muslim military personnel and defense department staff, had demanded in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that Graham be disinvited from speaking at the Pentagon prayer event. The army called the comments inappropriate and suggested it went against the army’s message of tolerance.
Graham brought the Pentagon prayer situation to President Obama’s attention. During Obama’s visit with Billy Graham at his North Carolina home on Sunday, the younger Graham expressed his concern that activists were trying to remove all religion from the military.
Graham told The Associated Press that Obama said he “would look into it.”
|April 29, 2010
|Supremes raise bar for non-Christians ‘offended’ by faith
(WorldNetDaily) The U.S. Supreme Court today raised the bar for those who express an "offense" because of the Christian faith, determining that the Mojave cross in California can remain on the knoll of rock where it has been for more than seven decades.
In the majority opinion delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court said, "The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm. A cross by the side of a public highway marking, for instance, the place where a state trooper perished need not be taken as a statement of governmental support for sectarian beliefs. The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society."
Kennedy was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Roberts and Alito filed additional concurring opinions. Antonin Scalia filed a concurring opinion that was joined by Clarence Thomas. Opposing the ruling were John Stevens, Ruth Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer.
According to the Alliance Defense Fund, one of the organizations that has worked on the issue, the focal point of the case was whether someone who has suffered no harm but only claims being "offended" can sue to destroy religious references on public monuments and memorials.
That could bring significant trouble, since the Supreme Court building itself contains multiple references to the Ten Commandments, and crosses in veterans cemeteries also could be targeted, among many other situations.
The ruling affirms the government is allowed to resolve such conflicts "in a way that allows the memorial to remain displayed," the ADF said.
"The ACLU and its allies should not be able to demolish war memorials based on the objection of one person who can`t seriously claim to have suffered harm from it," said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. "Americans want memorials to our nation`s fallen heroes protected. Congress was doing just that when it transferred the land under this memorial to the veterans` group that cares for it."
"A passive monument acknowledging our nation`s religious heritage cannot be interpreted as an establishment of religion," added ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco. "To make that accusation, one
must harbor both a hostility to the nation`s history and a deep misunderstanding of the First Amendment."
WND reported when oral arguments were held that if the Supreme Court were to rule against the cross, bulldozers and sandblasters would have to be called out.
"If you tear down a seven-foot cross in the middle of the Mojave Desert, 1.6 million acres, what will you have to do to crosses in Arlington National Cemetery and all the other memorials in highly trafficked, prominent locations?" wondered Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute, which also worked on the Mojave cross case.
After today`s opinion was released, Shackelford said it was a "disgrace" that the cross has been covered by plywood for a decade.
"We applaud the Supreme Court for overruling the decisions below, but this battle is not over. This box must come off. No war memorial with religious imagery is safe until the court rules that these memorials, which serve to remember our fallen heroes of the military, are allowed under the Constitution."
The high court`s decision reversed the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and returns the case to a lower court to address the issue of the congressionally mandated transfer of the site where the cross sits to a private interest, the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"The VFW is grateful the Supreme Court overturned the Ninth Circuit`s decision," said Joe Davis, public affairs director of the VFW. "As this case now goes back to the court below, this box must come down. This and every veterans memorial should be respected for those it honors, not covered or torn down."
Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, said the issue is bigger than a single monument – or even all the monuments.
"Passive displays like the World War I Memorial, the Ten Commandments, nativity scenes, or statements like the national motto do not force anyone to participate in a religious exercise and, thus, do not establish religion. This case reveals the extremism of the ACLU. For 75 years this cross in the Mojave Desert did not disturb anyone. It stood as a memorial to the heroes of World War I. Removing this memorial would be an insult to our war veterans. Doing so under the guise of the First Amendment is an insult to the framers of the Constitution. For now the cross will remain," he said.
But he warned the Constitution "should not depend on 5-4 votes with fractured opinions."
"If the courts returned to the original understanding of the Constitution, then these First Amendment religion cases would be easy. The next justice on the Supreme Court must be committed to upholding the rule of law and the original intent of the Constitution.”
Staver was referring to the fact that Justice Stevens is retiring, and President Obama already is considering candidates to replace him. Obama`s first appointment to the court, Sotomayor, joined in the minority dissent that would have ordered the destruction of the cross.
The memorial was originally erected in 1934 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars as a wooden cross with a plaque stating, "The Cross, Erected in Memory of the Dead of All Wars" and "Erected 1934 by Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Death Valley Post 2884." Beginning in 1935, people gathered intermittently at the site for Easter services, which became a regular occurrence in 1984.
According to the National Parks Service, the gatherings by private parties somehow transformed the war memorial into a religious shrine of sorts and disqualified it from being included in the National Register of Historic Places. Congress then enacted a series of laws aimed at preserving the monument, including, most recently, a land exchange that would transfer ownership of the land upon which the monument rests to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in exchange for its donation of an equivalent piece of property to the Parks Service.
The ACLU, which brought the case on behalf of a retired Park Service worker, Frank Buono, instead insisted that the cross be torn down.
The majority opinion said the government`s decision to transfer ownership of the land was a reasonable resolution to an otherwise unsolveable problem.
"The 2002 injunction [saying the memorial could not remain] presented the government with a dilemma. It could not maintain the cross without violating the injunction, but it could not remove the cross without conveying disrespect for those the cross was seen as honoring."
Chief Justice John Roberts summed up the case in a paragraph.
"At oral argument, respondent`s counsel stated that it `likely would be consistent with the injunction` for the government to tear down the cross, sell the land to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and return the cross to them, with the VRW immediately raising the cross again. … I do not see how it can make a difference for the government to skip that empty ritual and do what Congress told it to do – sell the land with the cross on it," he wrote. "The Constitution deals with substance, not shadows."
A video about the dispute has collected almost 2 million views:
According to a video on the Don`t Tear Me Down campaign website, the veterans of World War I chose the rock because of the image of a doughboy that appears in its creased face under certain light conditions.
Richard Thompson, chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, had warned before the decision, "The ACLU hates crosses as much as vampires hate crosses or the daylight. Despite their claims to the contrary, this case is part of the ACLU`s national agenda to incrementally remove every cross on public land. Their guiding principle is `out of sight out of mind.` The court`s ruling in this case will impact crosses in thousands of memorials nationwide."
|April 29, 2010
|Law Targeting International Sex Trafficking Moves Forward in U.S. House
(LifeSiteNews) The battle against international sex-trafficking took a new step forward Wednesday after the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs approved legislation that would establish an international database of registered sex offenders and traffickers – an international version of the U.S. “Megan’s Law” – which its sponsors say would greatly assist authorities worldwide in preventing the exploitation of children by international sex tourists.
The measure, sponsored by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, is called “the International Megan’s Law of 2010” and would establish mandatory reporting requirements for convicted sex traffickers and registered sex offenders against children who intend to travel overseas.
The House committee cleared the legislation to go to the floor of the full U.S. House of Representatives in a unanimous voice vote.
Currently the fight against keeping sex predators from exploiting children abroad depends on cooperation between national governments and international police agencies, such as between Interpol and U.S. border and customs officers.
But Smith, a longtime human rights leader and author of anti human-trafficking legislation in 2000, 2003 and 2005, said international cooperation is largely “ad hoc” and leaves wide gaps for sexual offenders to travel to and from international destinations largely unnoticed and anonymous. Despite the “sincere effort” of U.S. and foreign agencies, Smith said that international sharing of information about travelling child sex predators only happens occasionally.
“A legal structure is needed to systematize notification efforts and ultimately protect as many children as possible," he said.
The prime model for the legislation is the U.S. Megan’s law, which was passed in 1996 in order to respond to the problem of convicted sexual predators changing their address or even moving across state lines where state and local authorities would have no knowledge of their danger to children and society. The law is named after a New Jersey girl, Megan Nicole Kanka, who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in 1994 by a convicted sex offender who lived right across the street.
The proposed bill takes specific aim at child sex tourism. Smith’s proposed law would require that the United States provide advance notice of a “high risk” individual’s intended travel to the government authorities of their destination, and would request foreign governments to notify the United States when individuals with known records of sexually preying upon minors seek to enter the United States.
If approved by Congress, the International Megan’s Law would establish a sex offender travel notification system for U.S. authorities on the look-out for sex offenders intending international travel to and from the United States, non-public sex offender registries in U.S. embassies to keep critical information on U.S. sex predators living abroad, and would provide the U.S. Secretary of State with the ability to revoke or severely restrict the passport of an individual convicted overseas of a sex crime against a minor.
The proposed bill would also require the Secretary of State to issue a report on how international cooperation between governments is progressing on child sex offender travel, and would also provide financial assistance to other countries to help them establish systems to identify and report child sex offenders to U.S. authorities.
According to the International Labour Organization, approximately 1.8 million children all over the world suffer exploitation through the commercial sex trade, a figure referenced by Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who strongly endorsed the bill during its Wednesday committee mark-up.
"We all know the devastating emotional, physical, and psychological effects on these child victims," he said. "We need to do all we can to prevent these predators from circumventing U.S. laws to prey on children in foreign countries.”
Berman urged his colleagues in the House on both sides of the aisle to support the bill, which is expected to come before the full House before the summer recess.
|April 29, 2010
|Canadian Parents Must Stand against Explicit Sex Ed
(LifeSiteNews) A prominent Catholic pro-life and pro-family organization is calling on parents and other concerned individuals to take action in the wake of an attempt by the Ontario (Canada) Ministry of Education to force a new controversial elementary sex-ed curriculum on Catholic schools.
Campaign Life Catholic (CLC), which has been lobbying against the curriculum behind-the-scenes since the fall, says that parents cannot let up on the pressure against the curriculum despite the government`s decision last week to shelve it for further consultation.
“Thanks to pressure from pro-family & Christian leaders, Dalton McGuinty has `shelved` his plan – for the moment,” reads a flyer the group has begun distributing. But, the flyer continues, “he will bring it back someday. It is crucial that Catholics send a strong message to Ontario MPPs telling them `don’t try bringing this back, ever!`.”
The flyer outlines the most egregious aspects of the new sex-ed curriculum. They point out that sex-ed was set to begin in grade 1, where students were to learn about sexual body parts. In grade 3, students would begin exploring “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” “This will teach kids that they cannot be certain whether they are boys or girls,” the group points out. In grade 6, masturbation is presented as “not harmful” and “one way of learning about your body,” and in grade 7 students are taught about anal intercourse and how to use condoms.
Forcing such a curriculum on Catholic schools “is absolutely wrong,” explained CLC`s Suresh Dominic, “because it is contrary to our faith, and it is an infringement of our religious freedom."
"Why would Catholic children be forced to learn something that is against their beliefs in the Catholic schools?" he asked.
After becoming aware of the Ministry`s attempts at imposing the anti-Catholic sex-ed curriculum in the Catholic system, CLC wrote in the fall to the Ontario Assembly of Catholic Bishops, the directors of education and catholic school board trustees to inform them of the plan.
"The parents are not told in advance. They had no consultation,” Dominic told LifeSiteNews. “Every parent should know what they are trying to introduce. They can`t just slip something in."
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty defended the curriculum last week, before backing down in the face of pressure and agreeing to give it more consultation. But he insisted again today that whatever curriculum they come up with will be required of Catholic schools. "We have a single curriculum when it comes to mathematics, when it comes to history, when it comes to world studies, and when it comes to sexual education,” he said. “We’ll find a way to make sure that it suits all of our children."
Dominic said he was seriously concerned that the Ministry will again attempt to impose elements on Catholic schools that conflict with Church teaching, but said that they`ll have to review whatever the Ministry of Education comes up with. He did maintain, however, that “the government should not be interfering in this area of human sexuality in the Catholic schools.”
|April 28, 2010
|Military Chaplains Ask President Obama to Preserve Their Religious Freedom
(CitizenLink) More than 40 distinguished retired military chaplains have written a letter to President Obama, urging him not to change the so-called "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" policy. The chaplains are concerned that they would be forced to choose between their careers and their faith if the ban on gays serving openly in the military is overturned.
Col. Rich Young said no one has looked at the unintended consequences of changing the law.
"Chaplains` religious freedom is at risk," he said at a news conference today. "Chaplains, however, are not the only ones who are in danger. Soldiers and military families will also pay a price.
"Compelling chaplains to replace biblical truth with political correctness not only steals from the chaplain their religious freedom, but also directly harms our military."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said: "If chaplains are forced to counsel same-sex couples or are limited in the moral teachings that they can present, you can look for orthodox Christian chaplains to exit the military."
|April 27, 2010
|Sexuality Transmitted Disease Crisis
(Family Research Council) Chances are, Americans don`t go through their days worrying about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But considering the growing panic, perhaps they should. According to the most knowledgeable experts on the issue, the spread of STDs may be the biggest crisis that no one knows about. Cheryl Wetzstein of the Washington Times tackled the issue today in a must-read article about these silent killers. She quotes William Smith, head of the National Coalition of STD Directors, at length about a monster strain of gonorrhea and how it could affect every corner of the country. In his words, we are on the "verge of a highly untreatable" outbreak of the disease. Some have characterized it as the next "superbug" because it appears to be almost completely resistant to antibiotics. Even the Centers for Disease Control have "just a single class of antibiotics left to treat it."
Another STD that`s worming its way through the States is syphilis, which seems to be claiming the lives of young babies who are victims of mother-to-child transmission. In the most developed country in the world, newborns accounted for 431 of the 13,500 cases of syphilis in 2008. "Where is the outcry," Smith asks? Despite first-rate health care, Americans are dealing with third-world infection rates. In comparison to the hysteria over H1N1, Wetzstein wonders why Washington isn`t taking the problem more seriously. Since April of last year, 11,690 people have died of swine flu. Twenty thousand died of STDs in 2004 alone--yet there`s no frenzy and seemingly no fury for fatalities that are entirely preventable. The U.S. pours millions into STD treatments when, unlike cancer, it can be avoided with simple behavioral changes! As FRC`s Peter Sprigg pointed out, gonorrhea`s resistant strains tend to show up first in men who have sex with men. We need to coach people to stop engaging in risky sex.
Unfortunately, in this age of sexual freedom, that`s a message no one wants to deliver--particularly because it would mean disparaging promiscuity and homosexuality. Pop culture wants to encourage intimacy with anyone at any time with complete disregard for the physical toll. It`s as if sex were the new constitutional right. But empowering people to pursue sexual satisfaction at any cost has left the nation in a position of vulnerability from which it might never recover.
|April 26, 2010
|Christian Video Site GodTube.com Revived by `Popular Demand`
(Christian Post) GodTube.com, the Christian video-sharing site that reached 2.7 million users monthly before turning over to a new URL, reopened recently due to user demand.
The site had officially closed in 2009 after changing its name to Tangle.com and redirecting users to the new site. Tangle.com originally launched to expand GodTube.com’s user base from a faith-based community into the broader family-friendly market. Since its launch, however, Tangle.com has developed into a social networking site, allowing GodTube to be reborn as a site that focuses on video sharing.
Within a few weeks of reopening, GodTube.com has reportedly draw in 400,000 unique visitors.
"There is a great amount of brand loyalty to GodTube.com from the visitors to the site,” says Trey Bowles, CEO of Big Jump Media, parent company of both GodTube.com and Tangle.com.
Bowles says his company has learned to better serve the Christian community since GodTube’s launch in 2007, when the site was originally marketed as the evangelical Christian version of YouTube.
The internet strategist says the new site will give families an alternative to unfiltered video content on the web.
Presently, GodTube.com videos are filtered before appearing in one of seven categories on the site: Christian, comedy, cute, inspiration, music, news and sports. The site developers plan to create a flagging system for users to mark inappropriate videos as another precaution against harmful content.
According to the company, the site’s burst in growth reflects the excitement within the online Christian community.
"We will continue to focus on providing tools and distribution opportunities that will unite the body of Christ online,” concludes Bowles.
|April 26, 2010
|Most Americans Say Judges Are Anti-Religious
(Christian Reporter) Only 21 percent of adults think the judges` rulings regarding religion in public life have correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution, according to Rasmussen Reports.
Among evangelical Christians, 87 percent say the rulings have been too anti-religious. Those who practice other religions are evenly divided on the question.
Meanwhile, 51 percent of those who rarely or never attend a religious service believe the courts have correctly interpreted the Constitution.
"Legal scholars, religious leaders and politicians have argued for decades over whether the `separation of church and state` is actually enshrined in the Constitution," the report, released Friday, states. "One side argues that the Constitution merely prohibits the establishment of a government-mandated official religion, but the other reads in the document the complete banishment of religion from anything touched by the government. The courts in recent years have leaned in the direction of the latter position."
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the federal statute creating the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional, concluding that it connotes endorsement and encouragement of a particular religious exercise.
A majority of Americans (60 percent) surveyed by Rasmussen were found to favor having the federal government recognize the annual prayer day.
Lawmakers and Christian groups have called on President Obama to direct the Justice Department to appeal the decision. The Obama administration announced last week that it will appeal.
With much attention drawn to the Supreme Court as Obama prepares to find a nominee to replace retiring Justice John Stevens, the new Rasmussen survey found that 39 percent of voters nationwide believe the high court is too liberal and only a quarter think it is too conservative.
Forty-six percent say the Supreme Court has been too hostile toward religion and only 13 percent say it has been too friendly toward religion.
Evangelical Christians are more likely than other Protestants and those of other faiths to view the high court as too hostile. While 73 percent of evangelicals say so, only 48 percent of other Protestants, 38 percent of Catholics and 29 percent of those of other faiths agree.
In other findings, 61 percent of Americans favor prayer in public schools. They also overwhelmingly favor allowing religious symbols to be displayed on public land. Also, 77 percent say an opening prayer should be part of the presidential inauguration ceremony.
Findings are based on a national survey of 1,000 adults, conducted April 21-22.
|April 26, 2010
|GMO: Potential There to Reach World with Gospel by 2020
(Christian Post) We have the potential to share the Gospel with everyone on earth by 2020, stated the head of an internet ministry.
“We are the first generation in all of human history to hold within our hands the technology to reach every man, woman and child on the earth by 2020,” said Walt Wilson, founder and CEO of Global Media Outreach, during the recent iSummit at Biola University. “Our generation has within its grasp everything that is required to fulfill the Great Commission.”
Wilson, a former Apple executive, said by 2015 there will be WiFi everywhere on earth.
This Sunday, GMO is sponsoring Internet Evangelism Day. In its sixth year, IE Day is a time for churches and individuals to take time to explore new ways to reach people near and far for Christ through the internet.
GMO, the media arm of Campus Crusade for Christ, believes that online mission is not only financially efficient, but it allows people to share the Gospel in restricted regions where traditional missionaries have a hard time entering.
Through the ministry’s more than 100 websites, seekers around the world searching for spiritual answers can connect with online missionaries who respond to their questions. GMO currently has more than 4,000 online missionary volunteers who respond to e-mails from around the world from seekers.
With this new approach of spreading the Gospel, Christians can do missions without having to leave their full-time jobs or relocate.
Last year alone, GMO recorded over 10 million decisions for Christ from seekers who were found through the ministry’s websites. The figure is a huge increase from the ministry’s first year in 2004 when it saw 21,066 people indicate a decision for Christ.
“I believe that God has built this network to accomplish that very purpose [reaching the entire world] within our lifetime,” said Wilson. “We are being called to engage in the battle for human souls, all across the world. We are being given the tools to meet them in their time of need. The moment they step out of the darkness, we are there to meet them.”
There are an estimated 2 million searches for spiritual needs every day.
Michelle Diedrich, communications director at GMO, said during a webinar Wednesday that there is a lot of evil on the internet and Christians should be on the internet helping people find Jesus.
“[M]ore people use the internet than go to church,” said Diedrich. “New thinking is required for outreach in the post-Christian age.”
In an interview with The Christian Post this week, Diedrich said GMO’s goal is to be part of the whole cycle in leading people to Christ: share the Gospel, help people grow in their faith, and help them connect to a local church or body of Christ.
She said online missionaries can go “very deep” with people they are guiding spiritually.
Still, “there are things you cannot do online," Diedrich acknowledged.
"You cannot visit someone in the hospital. You cannot bring them a covered dish if they are sick. You can’t lay hands on them physically. So there are things certainly that the on-the-ground church does that you can no way do online.”
But people being raised through GMO are able to do online Bible studies individually, be mentored, and join weekly online small group Bible studies.
“We really try to offer multiple options for someone once they made a decision to help them grow whether that is chat Bible studies, self-service online Bible studies, or working through materials with the person they are talking to,” said Diedrich.
Some of GMO’s English-language websites include WhoisJesus-Really.com, GodLovestheWorld.com, 4StepstoGod.com, and GrowinginChrist.com, among many others.
Last year, 66 million people reportedly visited one or more of GMO’s 100-plus websites to search for information about Jesus and the hope he brings.
|April 26, 2010
|`Earth Day` wrongly emphasizes idolatry
(OneNewsNow) A Christian astrophysicist says the move to "go green" may be going too far.
Last week, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day was celebrated. Environmentalists held a series of rallies around America designed to increase awareness about a number of issues related to the environment and alleged "global warming."
But Dr. Jason Lisle, an astrophysicist with Answers in Genesis (AIG), says many Earth Day celebrations have an evolutionary basis and are a doorway to paganism and New Age mysticism.
"What I`m really concerned about is that people are doing what Romans 1 warns us against -- that people are worshipping the creation rather than the Creator," says Lisle. "And I think even the title `Earth Day` sort of makes me feel a little bit like we`re giving too much emphasis to the wrong thing."
The earth, says the AIG spokesman, should not be worshipped. "It`s God, the Creator of the earth, that we should be worshipping -- and we should certainly be grateful to the Lord that he`s given us this world and we should be good stewards of it," he urges. "But it`s to God that we`re to be grateful."
Lisle says a true reason to protect the environment is out of God`s command from Genesis to care for the planet.
|April 26, 2010
|Kiddie Jihad: Child Bombers Terror`s Newest Weapon
(Family Security Matters) Islamic terrorists are always looking for new ways to escape detection and carry out their attacks. One of their latest ideas is using children as suicide bombers.
The growing phenomenon may soon spread beyond the Middle East to the rest of the world.
The Making of a Child Martyr
Strategies in the global war against Islamic terrorism are taking very different roads in 2010. The Obama administration hopes downplaying Islamic extremism may help when dealing with Muslim countries.
Terror groups, however, are taking extremism to new levels by indoctrinating Muslim children in the deadly art of suicide bombing.
"The state-sponsored illegal recruitment and education of innocent Muslim children to become suicide bombers and child soldiers is occurring throughout the Muslim and non-Muslim world," said Brooke Goldstein, founder and director of The Children`s Rights Institute, an organization focusing on human rights violatios against children.
"In Pakistan, thousands of children are being educated in madrassahs," she said. "In Iraq, handicapped children are being blown up at polling stations. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is paying up to $12,000 per child, donated to them by their own families.”
Taliban leaders run training centers where boys as young as 11 years of age learn to be suicide bombers. Some are even younger.
A 6-year-old Afghan boy recruited in 2007 was told that his suicide belt would "explode into flowers."
A Deadly Pioneer
The modern-day pioneer of Islamic child martyrdom was the Ayatollah Khomeini.
He sent thousands of children to clear minefields during the Iran-Iraq War. Khomeini then passed the baton to Palestinian terror groups, who`ve shown no qualms about sending children to their deaths.
Goldstein examined the world of Palestinian child bombers in her award-winning film, The Making of a Martyr. “The state television, the school textbooks, the radio media, their print media, music videos are all teaching these children to become suicide bombers," Goldstein said. "They`re teaching them to hate life and love death."
A Growing Global Phenomenon
This phenomenon is spreading through the Middle East to Iraq, the al Qaeda hotbed of Yemen.
"In Yemen, just about 50 percent of all combatants in the war between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels are under the age of 18," Goldstein explained. "A majority of those children are now being targeted to become suicide bombers."
The next battleground may be Great Britain. Due to growing extremism among young British Muslims, the government has started a de-radicalization program called The Channel Project.
"They have 230 children between the ages of 7 and 18 who they are now in the process of deradicalization education," Goldstein said.
In the meantime, she says international human rights groups like Amnesty International have shown little interest in the issue.
|April 25, 2010
|80% Say Religious Faith is Important To Their Daily Lives
(Rasmussen) Eight-out-of-10 Americans (80%) say that their religious faith is at least somewhat important in their daily lives, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 18% feel their religious faith is not very or not at all important to their lives.
Fifty-seven percent (57%) of all adults describe their religious faith as very important to their daily living.
Women are more likely than men to feel their faith is very important to their lives. Sixty-six percent (66%) of African-Americans say their religious faith is very important, compared to 56% of whites. Married adults are more inclined than unmarrieds to rate their faith as very important to daily living.
While the majorities of those of all faiths say their religious beliefs are at least somewhat important to their daily lives, there are sharp differences in terms of those who describe it as very important. Eighty-two percent (82%) of Evangelical Christians say their religious faith is very important every day, a view shared by 65% of other Protestants, 46% of Catholics and 37% of those of other beliefs.
Sixty-three percent (63%) of adults say they pray at least once a day. Nineteen percent (19%) pray occasionally, while 15% rarely or never pray at all.
Adults who attend church regularly are more inclined to pray daily.
Seventy-two percent (72%) of those who pray every day say their religious faith is very important to their daily lives.
A federal judge in Wisconsin recently struck down as unconstitutional the National Day of Prayer, declared by Congress in 1952. But 60% of Americans favor having the federal government recognize a National Day of Prayer.
Sixty-seven percent (67%) of adults who favor a National Day of Prayer say a prayer daily, compared to 17% who rarely or never pray.
But then only 21% of all Americans think that rulings by judges in recent years regarding religion in public life have correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution. Sixty-four percent (64%) of adults believe the judges’ rulings have been more anti-religious than the Founding Fathers intended.
While the courts in recent years have pushed religion out of most schools, Americans by a nearly two-to-one margin – 61% to 31% - favor prayer in public schools. Americans also remain overwhelmingly in favor of allowing religious symbols to be displayed on public land and feel even more strongly that public schools should celebrate at least some religious holidays.
|April 24, 2010
|Study Confirms Autism Boom - Correlates with Aborted Fetal DNA in Vaccines
(LifeSiteNews) A recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed 1988 as a “change point” in the rise of Autism Disorder rates in the U.S. - a date that pro-life leaders say correlates with the introduction of fetal cells for use in vaccines.
While the EPA study does not speculate into the cause of the jump in autism rates, and makes no mention of aborted fetal cells, the researchers point out that it “is important to determine whether a preventable exposure to an environmental factor may be associated with the increase.”
According to the pro-life group Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute (SCPI), which specializes in vaccine research, that “environmental factor” may well be the use of aborted fetal cells in vaccines.
The group pointed out in its most recent newsletter that 1988 is the same year the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices began recommending a second dose of the MMR vaccine, which included cells derived from the tissue of aborted babies.
Analyses of autism rate data published by SCPI identify 3 clear change points in U.S. autism disorder trends: 1981, 1988 and 1995, all of which the groups claims roughly correlate with the use of vaccines (Meruvax, MMRII, and Chickenpox) that were cultivated with the use of tissue from aborted children. The group says that it has been unable to identify any other factor that might correlate to the change in autism rates.
“The only environmental event correlating with these statistical autism trend ‘change points’ which would impact almost all children was the introduction of vaccines produced using human fetal cells and containing residual human DNA and cellular debris,” said SCPI.
Pro-life groups say that the research by EPA adds to an increasing body of evidence implicating the use of aborted fetal cell material in the nationwide vaccinations impacting nearly every child born in the United States.
American Life League has joined Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute in calling for a Fair Labeling and Informed Consent Act in light of the findings.
“For years the evidence has pointed toward the link between vaccines using DNA from aborted babies and the rise of Autism Disorder rates,” said Jim Sedlak, vice president of American Life League.
“Parents need and deserve to know the risks associated with vaccinations made from lines derived from the bodies of aborted children.”
SCPI has affirmed that they are continuing to study the impact of residual human fetal DNA in vaccines on the brain development and autism in children, and will present their studies at the International Society for Autism Research in May 2010.
|April 24, 2010
|North Dakota Approves Petition for Abortion Decapitation, Skull Crushing Ban
(LifeSiteNews.com) A North Dakota grassroots pro-life organization is announcing the official beginning of an effort to circulate petitions for an initiated measure that would prohibit physicians from decapitating and crushing the skulls of living unborn children.
‘The Baby Decapitation and Skull Crushing Ban’ was approved for circulation by the North Dakota Secretary of State and Attorney General on Thursday. Daniel Woodard, head of the state-wide Stop Decapitation Network, aims to collect 12,844 signatures in order to place the measure on the 2010 or 2012 ballot. The ban would become law if a majority of North Dakotans vote for it.
The Petition Title reads: “This initiated measure would create a new chapter to the North Dakota Century Code making it a crime for a physician to knowingly decapitate or crush the skull of a living unborn child or to incidentally cause serious bodily injury to the mother due to a resulting skull fragment; medical treatment could be used to save the life of the mother if the death of the child is incidental to the treatment.”
“It says a lot about how far we’ve sunk as a godly nation that we would need to pass a law banning the decapitation and skull crushing of babies waiting to be born," said Woodard. "The barbarians of old were not even as savage as some abortion `doctors.` It’s supremely ironic that we accuse Islamic governments of savagely decapitating their own people, yet they accuse Western governments of savagely decapitating their own children.
"This insane slaughter of others must stop now. None of it is justified.”
The Stop Decapitation Network`s press release pointed to federal testimony by an abortionist describing the gruesome process of decapitating and crushing unborn babies` skulls to complete abortions.
During a federal district court case out of New York on March 31, 2004, abortionist Timothy Johnson testified: “When one does a D&E [abortion], technically one of the challenges is to remove the fetal skull, partly because it is relatively large, partly because it is relatively calcified, and it is difficult to grasp on occasion. So one of the common technical challenges of a dismemberment D&E is what is called a free-floating head or a head that has become disattached and needs to be removed. This can lead to more passages of instruments through the cervix. And technically it is difficult to grasp the head; it is round, it slips out of the instruments that we generally use. Either those instruments or the head can be extruded outside the uterus and cause perforation [tearing].”
Woodard told LifeSiteNews.com Thursday evening that he has not heard any opposition to the measure from pro-abortion groups.
Click here for the Stop Decapitation Network`s Web site
|April 23, 2010
|What you should know about Facebook’s changes
What you should know about Facebook’s changes
(CNN) Facebook announced some changes on Wednesday that are intended to make the Internet more social. Essentially, Facebook is stretching out into the rest of the Web.
But what do these new features actually mean for everyday people who use the Internet?
And when you see these Facebook-looking features popping up on other Web sites, how do you know what to do with them?
Here`s a quick guide, based on a comments by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook`s founder and CEO, and interviews with developers who create applications for the massively popular social-networking site:
Buttons with the word "like" and a thumbs-up icon on them are going to start popping up all over the Internet. By clicking one, you indicate that you find the content interesting, relevant or helpful. Basically, you would recommend it to a friend.
Before Wednesday, "like" buttons only were on Facebook. Now, they`ll be all over the place, including on this site. When you click one, you post the item -- whether it`s a blog post, photo or celebrity web page -- to your Facebook news feed.
The "liked" content may also become part of your Facebook profile, and visible to your friends or to everyone, depending on how your privacy settings are configured on Facebook.
A consequence of these "like" buttons will be that your friends` Facebook profile photos will start showing up all over the web.
If you see your friends` smiling faces online, it`s an indication that they have clicked a "like" button on the Web site you`re visiting. In a way, they`re recommending it to you.
Facebook says these recommendations and social connections are the basis for the future of the Internet. Boring old hyperlinks are becoming something of the past, the company says.
These new Facebook features will show up regardless of whether or not you have entered a user name and password on a particular Web site.
So, say you go to Pandora to listen to music. If you have logged in to Facebook recently, you won`t have to do anything on Pandora to see suggestions about music. Recommendations from your Facebook friends will automatically show up.
Facebook announced new toolbars that other Web sites can add to the bottom of their pages. The toolbar lets you "like" a particular web page or item, and gives you information about what your friends think of the page you`re viewing.
You can also chat with friends who are currently logged in to Facebook without visiting the site.
Some Internet users might worry about the fact that their Facebook profile photos, as well as their likes and dislikes, are going to show up all over the web.
At least for now, a person`s likes and dislikes are only as visible as they want them to be.
But, if nothing else, that means you should probably double-check your privacy settings.
Go to Facebook, look at the top right of the screen and click the "Account" tab. Choose "Privacy settings" and then navigate to "Profile information."
Check the "likes and interests" setting. If you have that set to "everyone," then anyone on the Internet could see which Web pages you have liked.
Some users might only want their Facebook friends to see that information.
One overarching thing you might notice is that Facebook is going to be all over the Internet with these changes.
This puts the social network at odds with Google, which also is trying to organize the world`s information by interests and preferences.
Another potential side effect: The web you see is the web your friends like.
Without some effort, you might end up browsing based on your friends preferences, rather than exploring new territory. Your activity can influence them, too.
As you navigate the web and start to play around with these new features, let us know what you think by posting a comment below.
Do you think this will make Facebook the dominant player on the Internet? Do you find the features and recommendations useful, or do they clutter up your online experience?
|April 23, 2010
|Obama Admin to Defend Day of Prayer in Court
(CBN) The U.S. Justice Department has filed an appeal against the ruling by a Wisconsin Judge who said the annual Day of Prayer event is unconstitutional.
Some legal analysts believe the case could go all the way to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the army is considering disinviting Evangelist Franklin Graham from speaking at the Pentagon`s National Day of Prayer event.
Some muslims have protested because of comments Billy Graham`s son made in the past calling Islam "wicked" and "false."
Graham told Fox News on Thursday that he stands by remarks he`s made, but that he loves the muslim people.
"I want them to know that they don`t have to die in a car bomb, don`t have to die in some kind of holy war to be accepted by God. But it`s through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone," Graham said. "But when you look at Islam, I love the people of Islam but the religion, I do not agree with the religion at all. If you look at what the religion does for just to women, women alone, it is just horrid."
Graham also said it is up to the military to decide if he will speak at the prayer event on May 6.
|April 23, 2010
|Gay Hospital Visitation Rights
(Christian Post) Some Christian leaders have expressed support for President Obama’s order to extend hospital visitation and health care decision rights of same-sex couples.
The leaders agree with the president that patients, whatever their sexual orientation, need their love ones by their sides and have a right to choose who they want to make medical decisions on their behalf.
Focus on the Family Senior Vice President Tom Minnery said in a statement Friday that the Christian pro-family group supports the principle in Obama’s Presidential Memorandum regarding hospital visitation.
Likewise, several evangelical leaders voiced support for ensuring gays and lesbians access to their loved ones during times of emergency and distress.
“To have access to loved ones in all conditions of life is something evangelicals see as compassionate and just,” said Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.
Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed in Orlando, said the directive brings “much-needed humanity” to the way patients are treated.
“As a pastor, I have witnessed the deep and heart-felt needs people experience, particularly in times of grave illness,” said Hunter. “In these moments, every person deserves the strength and support that being surrounded by loved ones brings.”
In a Presidential Memorandum, President Obama on Thursday directed the Department of Health and Human Services to work to ensure the rights of patients to designate visitors and decision makers. The memorandum highlighted that current hospital visitation policies have “uniquely affected” gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from their partner.
Hospital policies generally allow only visitors related by blood or marriage to visit a seriously injured or ill patient.
While Christian groups say they do not have a problem with extending visitation rights to same-sex couples, some question President Obama’s agenda.
FOTF said it wonders why patient-sensitive hospital policies required a Presidential Memorandum. The conservative pro-family group is concerned that the directive, though innocuous itself, is part of a larger effort to undermine marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act.
“Although it seems the White House released this Presidential Memorandum to, at least in part, promote a political agenda, the fact remains the document demonstrates that marriage does not have to be redefined in order for people to see their loved ones in the hospital,” said Minnery.
Family Research Council also said that while it does not object to the visitation rights it believes the directive is part of the president’s broader effort to appease his gay constituency and undermine the institution of marriage.
Besides gays and lesbians, the new rule would also apply to widows and widowers as well as members of religious orders.
The new policy will affect hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding, which is nearly all the medical institutions in the country.
|April 23, 2010
|Israel rejects US calls for east Jerusalem freeze
|(AP) Israel`s prime minister on Thursday rejected U.S. calls to halt construction in disputed east Jerusalem, clouding a new peace mission by Washington`s Mideast envoy.
Benjamin Netanyahu`s comments were broadcast on Israel`s Channel 2 TV shortly after envoy George Mitchell arrived for his first visit in six weeks. Mitchell`s efforts had been on hold due to disagreements over east Jerusalem, the section of the holy city claimed by Israel and the Palestinians.
"I am saying one thing. There will be no freeze in Jerusalem," Netanyahu said. "There should be no preconditions to talks."
Although Netanyahu was repeating his long-standing position, the timing of the statement threatened to undermine Mitchell`s latest efforts to restart peace talks. Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesman, denied earlier reports that Israel had officially rejected an American demand for a settlement freeze in Jerusalem.
In Washington, the State Department said the decision to send Mitchell was made late Wednesday after lower-level officials had meetings with Israeli and Palestinian representatives.
"We don`t go to meet just to meet. We go there because we have some indication that both sides are willing to engage seriously on the issues that are on the table," said spokesman P.J. Crowley.
"We understand that the Israelis have a long-standing position," he added. "But ... the status quo is not sustainable.
Mitchell arrived after a month-long break sparked by a dispute over Israeli construction in east Jerusalem, hoping to prod the Israelis and Palestinians to launch negotiations for the first time in more than a year.
It was far from certain whether he would succeed, though Israeli and Palestinian officials both indicated that they were ready to get past the deadlock.
The sides were set to begin indirect peace talks in early March when Israel revealed plans to build 1,600 homes for Jews in east Jerusalem. The announcement, which came during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, infuriated the Americans and prompted the Palestinians to postpone the indirect talks indefinitely.
The U.S. has been pushing Israel to cancel the planned housing project, halt other east Jerusalem construction and make other confidence-building measures to the Palestinians.
Netanyahu has repeatedly refused to curb Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, saying he is following a four-decade-old policy of his predecessors. Israel considers all of the city to be its eternal capital.
But in the TV interview, he said he hopes to resolve the differences with Washington, Israel`s closest and most important ally.
"There are ups and downs. There is a very strong fabric of relations that will allow us to overcome these problems in the end and reach understandings," he said.
Israeli officials declined to say what gestures were under consideration. The government has debated proposals to free some of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, turn over more West Bank territory to Palestinian control and possibly curb Jewish construction in the heart of Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.
Some 180,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, the vast majority in Jewish neighborhoods that ring the area. But an estimated 2,000 Israeli nationalists live deep inside Arab neighborhoods, creating friction between the sides.
An estimated 250,000 Palestinians live in Arab neighborhoods of the city. A halt to Israeli housing activity in these areas, while short of U.S. and Palestinian demands for a freeze in all of east Jerusalem, would nonetheless mark a concession by Israel.
|April 23, 2010
|Potentially lethal fungus moves south from Canada
Cases are rare, but it can be difficult to diagnose. Officials are on the lookout for it in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California.
(L.A. Times) A potentially lethal fungus normally found only in the tropics has established a foothold on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia and has slowly made its way southward into Washington, Oregon and Idaho, researchers said Thursday.
Health authorities are not unduly alarmed by the fungus because the number of cases so far remains small, but both federal and state officials — including those in California — are monitoring its progress in the fear that it will spread more rapidly as it reaches warmer climates.
"Overall, I don`t think it is a large threat at this time," said molecular biologist Edmond J. Byrnes III of Duke University Medical Center, the lead author of the report appearing in the online journal PLoS Pathogens. "But the fact that it is continuing to spread geographically and the number of cases is rising makes it a concern."
The spread is also a concern because the strain of the fungus that moved into the U.S. in 2004 has mutated to become more lethal than the original strain that invaded British Columbia in 1999.
Five of the 21 people who contracted the fungus in the U.S. have died (about 25%), compared with 8.7% of the 218 infected people in Canada. The fungus has also infected many different species of mammals.
|April 22, 2010
|Lawmakers push appeal of Prayer Day
(Washington Times) A bipartisan group of House lawmakers Wednesday denounced a federal judge`s recent ruling that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional and said they were calling on President Obama to aggressively appeal the decision.
"What brings us together today is a misguided court decision which threatens the longstanding tradition of this country," said Rep. Frank Wolf, Virginia Republican. "I urge the Obama administration to appeal this decision and to dedicate the best and brightest minds of the Justice Department to this case."
Mr. Wolf, a co-sponsor of the legislation President Reagan signed in 1988 that designated the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer, also was joined by approximately 30 Republican and Democrat lawmakers from the Congressional Prayer Caucus in issuing a House resolution calling for an appeal of the April 15 decision by a federal judge in Wisconsin.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a suit the group filed in 2008 that contended the day violated the separation of church and state.
The National Day of Prayer "goes beyond mere `acknowledgment` of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context," Judge Crabb wrote in her ruling. "In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience."
The Obama administration argued the day is meant only to acknowledge the role of religion in the United States and tried to get the case dismissed. The judge said she will not enforce the ruling until the appeals process is complete.
The administration still plans to issue a proclamation for the day, May 6, which would continue the observance that has been mandated by Congress and the White House since 1953.
Lawmakers and supporters pressed for more vigorous action.
"I understand the power of people getting together to pray," said former Rep. Tony Hall, Ohio Democrat who appeared with Mr. Wolf at Wednesday`s Capitol Hill press conference. "I`ve been praying for more than 25 years with Democrats and Republicans.
When we have a problem, we pass a bill. Imagine what it would happen in Washington if [we] prayed together. The American people want that."
|April 22, 2010
|Study Provides ‘Empirical Evidence’ for Sexual Orientation Change Efforts
(LifeSiteNews) Researchers at Fordham University in New York have published a study in the March edition of the Journal of Men`s Studies, showing that positive results can be gained by homosexual men seeking to change their “orientation” by developing healthy non-sexual relationships with other men.
According to the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homoseuxality (NARTH), the study rovides “valuable empirical evidence” from the mainstream of psychological research supporting environmental factors as the cause of homosexuality.
The study, by Dr. Elan Y. Karten and Dr. Jay C. Wade, examined the “social and psychological characteristics” of men who experience unwanted homosexual attractions and who seek “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE).
Investigating these characteristics in cases of “self-reported change,” Karten and Wade found that clients reported that they experienced “a decrease in homosexual feelings and behavior, an increase in heterosexual feelings and behavior, and a positive change in psychological functioning” with SOCE.
The researchers discovered that the most significant factors correlating to successful orientation change were “reduced conflict in expressing nonsexual affection with other men, being married, and feeling disconnected with men prior to treatment.”
NARTH commented that the factors like “reduced conflict in expressing nonsexual affection with men,” provide “valuable empirical evidence” that homosexual thoughts and feelings are greatly influenced by social and psychological factors,” instead of being biologically pre-determined.
NARTH also noted that the study demonstrated that there is a growing body of mainstream literature that is “beginning to give voice” to the value of SOCE.
“Although such research may not be considered politically correct, Karten and Wade should be praised for their courage to investigate such issues, and Fordham University should be lauded for sponsoring it,” NARTH’s Benjamin Erwin wrote.
“The Journal of Men`s Studies should be commended for their integrity in publishing honest research regardless of popular political sentiment. Perhaps other journals and scholarly publications will follow suit,” Erwin added.
Efforts to help those who suffer from unwanted same-sex attraction are widely denigrated in the media and especially by homosexualist activist groups who claim that they are nothing more than religious bigotry, or “homophobia.” But some have pointed out the internal inconsistencies in the popularly held theory that homosexuals are “born that way” and that homosexuality is merely one variation of normal human sexuality.
U.S. conservative columnist and controversialist Ann Coulter, writing on the media’s reaction to the latest manifestation of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals, said that the accusation that it is the discipline of clerical celibacy that “causes” priests to sexually abuse young men and boys, contradicts the deterministic theory of homosexuality.
To hold water, Coulter said, those who attack the Catholic Church’s discipline of celibacy would have to believe that a commitment to celibacy creates such a psychological trauma that it changes a man’s sexual orientation, a possibility ruled out by the “born that way” homosexualist doctrine.
She wrote, “If celibacy is to blame, this is a show-stopping, Nobel Prize-winning discovery overturning years of liberal claptrap.
“In all other circumstances, it is punishable by death to suggest that sexual behavior is not determined at birth or that gays can be ‘cured’. Now liberals are hawking the idea that gay priests could have been cured by marriage!”
|April 21, 2010
|Muslim Entrepreneurship Summit; Shari`ah Law v. U.S. Constitution
(Family Research Council) President Obama has invited entrepreneurs from the 50 largest Muslim nations to Washington, D.C. on April 26-27 to confer with 200 top American business leaders in what he calls "A New Beginning: U.S. Summit on Entrepreneurship." As part of his Cairo speech promises to the Muslim world, the President hopes to "identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world."
Last week FRC hosted Cooley Law School Professor William Wagner and former Muslim scholar and convert to Christianity Sam Solomon to deliver a riveting lecture, entitled: Shari`ah Law and the American Constitution, which built upon last month`s lecture by former Wall Street trader Joy Brighton, entitled: Financial Jihad: How Radical Islam--through Wall Street--Threatens America`s Families and Freedom. Joy`s lecture was recorded and is available online free of charge.
Faithful Muslims are required to participate in Jihad - perhaps not as terrorists - but as participants in the "struggle" to advance Shari`ah law, with the ultimate goal of world domination. Faithful Muslim businessmen are doing just that every day in North America with tremendous success, requiring banks and businesses to write Shari`ah-friendly contracts and loan agreements. Businesses must also agree to give 5% of their contract proceeds ("Zakat") to Muslim charities (some of which support Muslim terrorists).
Muslim businessmen are finding businesses hungry and willing to ignore any spiritual consequences and to accept religious measures they don`t fully understand in order to increase their own bottom line. The implications are profound as public schools, prisons, hospitals, banks, municipalities and various civil governments gladly comply with Shari`ah law to save money or obtain other benefits. Some of the nation`s largest banks and investment houses have complied. Sam sees this as the Trojan Horse that, if not stopped, will be hugely destructive to our nation (see Muslim Entrepreneurship Summit; Minneapolis Loans, Modern Day Trojan Horse).
May God intervene to prevent the upcoming Presidential Summit from becoming the launching pad for even more Shari`ah Law in America! May American business leaders be quickly educated about this issue and refuse to sacrifice American and Christian liberty for Shari`ah bondage. May the American people, too, be awakened and refuse to support businesses that give in to Shari`ah Law (Ex 20:3; Dt 28:15, 25; Ps 96:1-10; Dan 3:12-18; Eze 3:18; Ho 4:6; 1 Cor 10:14; Gal 5:1; Jas 4:7).
|April 20, 2010
|Congressman backs `hate crimes` lawsuit
(WorldNetDaily) U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, sent an unsolicited letter to a group of Christian activists and pastors to support their efforts in suing Attorney General Eric Holder over the "hate crimes" law that President Obama signed into law late last year.
"As a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, I worked hard to stop this legislation," King writes. "Like you, I believe this `Hate Crimes` Act is unconstitutional and marks an unprecedented move to regulate and criminalize our thoughts."
King sent the letter to Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, who joined Pastors Levon Yuille, Rene Ouellette and James Combs in filing a lawsuit with the help of the Thomas More Law Center in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan earlier this year.
The complaint contends that the "hate crimes" law violates the plaintiffs` civil rights, since it opens Christians to being the target of federal investigations, grand juries and even charges for opposing or publicly criticizing the homosexual lifestyle and `gay` activism.
"On account of … the Hate Crimes Act, plaintiffs are targets for government scrutiny, questioning, investigation, surveillance, and other adverse law enforcement actions and thus seek judicial reassurance that they can freely participate in their speech and related religious activities without being investigated or prosecuted by the government or becoming part of official records because of their Christian beliefs," the lawsuit explains.
"In the complaint, you raise several constitutional and moral questions," King writes. "Not only will this Act create a class of people that are `more equal than others,` it will hinder your ability to preach the gospel and openly teach biblical principles.
"As a Christian first and a congressman second, I know the conviction that brought you to institute this lawsuit," King concludes. "I would like to commend you for your courage to challenge the constitutionality of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009."
|April 20, 2010
|Martyred: 176,000 Christians in 1 year
(WorldNetDaily) A new ministry partnership has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the fact that an estimated 176,000 Christians around the world were martyred – killed for their faith – in a one-year period from the middle of 2008 to the middle of 2009.
That`s 482 deaths per day, one every three minutes.
Martyrdom didn`t go away with the Middle Ages, according to reports from Open Doors USA, which now has combined efforts with actor Kirk Cameron of "The Way of the Master" ministry as well as evangelist Ray Comfort of Living Waters ministry to focus on those who are being persecuted for their faith.
The groups have announced a webinar on Thursday, an interactive Internet-based seminar, featuring Cameron, Comfort and Carl Moeller, the president of Open Doors USA.
Registration is open to the public and free of charge.
Emeal Zwayne, executive vice president of Living Waters, said that few Christians in the U.S. are even aware "that an estimated 176,000 Christians were martyred from mid-2008 to mid-2009.
"It`s so hard to believe that in this day and age so many Christians are losing their life for their faith. It`s as though we in the U.S. live in a different world from the rest of the Body of Christ," he said. "We want to ask the question that is on a few people`s lips – will persecution ever come to America? And if so, what can we do about it?" he said.
Zwayne said the ministries have been working together "to try and draw attention to the plight of the Persecuted Church, because Scripture tells us to remember those who are persecuted for the sake of Christ."
"Open Doors is a wonderful organization, and together we want to do all we can to highlight this often forgotten cause," he said.
The one-hour event is scheduled from 2:15-3:15 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday.
WND reported earlier this year when Open Doors USA released its 2010 World Watch List.
The report cited North Korea, which reportedly uses Christians as guinea pigs to test chemical and biological weapons, as the world`s worst persecutor of Christians.
The report said Iran, which may be using Christians as scapegoats for internal opposition to its president, is No. 2 on the Open Doors 2010 World Watch List.
The report said Iran is among eight nations in the top 10 of the group`s ranking of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians in which Shariah, the Islamic religious law, is dominant. A total of 35 nations on the list are under some form of Shariah.
"We can classify that as a growing trend," Jerry Dykstra, a spokesman for the ministry that works to serve persecuted Christians around the globe, told WND. "We`ve seen more countries (on the list) from the Muslim world."
The World Watch List, which is detailed on the Open Doors website, was started by the Open Doors Research Department in 1991. It seeks to understand the unique persecution fingerprint of each country.
The ranking is derived from a questionnaire of 53 questions sent to Open Doors workers, church leaders and experts in 70 nations.
It examines every aspect of persecution, including the degree of legal restrictions, state attitudes, how free the church is to organize itself, church burnings, anti-Christian riots and the murders of Christians that make headlines.
Open Doors is positioned uniquely to provide the research as it is the world`s largest mission agency working on behalf of the persecuted, operating in more than 45 countries worldwide.
Iran, at No. 2, is the highest-ranking nation in the top 10 in which Islam is the dominant religion. Following are No. 3 Saudi Arabia, No. 4 Somalia, No. 5 Maldives, No. 6 Afghanistan, No. 7 Yemen, No. 8 Mauritania and Uzbekistan, which ranked at No. 10. Laos, another communist nation like North Korea, is ranked No. 9.
Open Doors estimates there are 100 million Christians worldwide who suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation.
|April 20, 2010
|School Gives Credits for Participation in Day of Silence
(CitizenLink) Students in Bedford, N.H., will be awarded credits toward graduation for participating in the recent Day of Silence, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The school offers "Real World Learning" hours, a requirement for graduation.
Kevin Smith, executive director of Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire, said the move is stirring protests from parents who weren`t notified about the plan.
"This is another intrusion of the gay-lesbian-transgender agenda into the lives of children, which parents have every right to object to," he said.
He wonders if the same will apply for Christian students who take parting things like the Day of Truth.
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|April 20, 2010
|School district admits to webcam spying
(AP) A suburban school district secretly captured at least 56,000 webcam photographs and screen shots from laptops issued to high school students, its lawyer acknowledged Monday.
"It`s clear there were students who were likely captured in their homes," said lawyer Henry Hockeimer, who represents the Lower Merion School District.
None of the images, captured by a tracking program to find missing computers, appeared to be salacious or inappropriate, he said. The district said it remotely activated the tracking software to find 80 missing laptops in the past two years.
The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported Monday on the large number of images recovered from school servers by forensic computer experts, who were hired after student Blake Robbins filed suit over the tracking practice.
Robbins still doesn`t know why the district deployed the software tracking program on his computer, as he had not reported it lost or stolen, his lawyer said.
The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into possible wiretap violations by the district, and U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, of Pennsylvania, has introduced a bill to include webcam surveillance under the federal wiretap statute.
The district photographed Robbins 400 times during a 15-day period last fall, sometimes as he slept in bed or was half-dressed, according to his lawyer, Mark Haltzman. Other times, the district captured screen shots of instant messages or video chats the Harriton High School sophomore had with friends, he said.
"Not only was Blake Robbins being spied upon, but every one of the people he was IM chatting with were spied upon," said Haltzman, whose lawsuit alleges wiretap and privacy violations. "They captured pictures of people that have nothing to do with Harriton. It could be his cousin from Connecticut."
About 38,000 of the images were taken over several months from six computers the school said were stolen from a locker room.
The tracking program took images every 15 minutes, usually capturing the webcam photo of the user and a screen shot at the same time. The program was sometimes turned on for weeks or months at a time, Hockeimer said.
"There were no written policies or procedures governing the circumstances surrounding activating the program and the circumstances regarding turning off the activations," Hockeimer said.
Robbins was one of about 20 students who had not paid the $55 insurance fee required to take the laptops home but was the only one tracked, Haltzman said.
The depositions taken to date have provided contradictory testimony about the reasons for tracking Robbins` laptop. One of the two people authorized to activate the program, technology coordinator Carol Cafiero, invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions at the deposition, Haltzman said.
About 10 school officials had the right to request an activation, Hockeimer disclosed Monday.
The tracking program helped police identify a suspect not affiliated with the school in the locker room theft, Hockeimer said. The affluent Montgomery County district distributes the Macintosh notebook computers to all 2,300 students at its two high schools, Hockeimer said.
As part of the lawsuit, a federal judge this week is set to begin a confidential process of showing parents the images that were captured of their children.
The school district expects to release a written report on an internal investigation in the next few weeks, Hockeimer said. School board president David Ebby has pledged the report will contain "all the facts — good and bad."
|April 15, 2010
|Low-Cost Coverage in Obama’s Health Plan Leaves Out Some Vulnerable Patients
(AP) It`s an eagerly awaited early benefit of President Barack Obama`s health care overhaul: affordable coverage for Americans with medical problems who can`t get a private insurer to even take a look.
Starting in July, a special high-risk pool will offer coverage to uninsured people with pre-existing health conditions at a cost similar to what everyone else pays. It`s the first test of whether the administration can deliver on Obama`s vision within the budget Congress set.
But some vulnerable patients are probably going to feel a little cheated. Consider this coverage wrinkle:
Suppose your cancer is in remission. You had to quit your job while you were having chemotherapy, and your employer coverage ran out. You can`t find a private insurer who`ll take you, but you`re lucky to live in a state that has its own high-risk pool. Still, you have to struggle to pay the premiums, well above standard insurance because sicker people are in the group. Yet as the federal program is designed, you wouldn`t be able to switch over and take advantage of significant savings.
The reason: You have to be uninsured to qualify for the new plan.
"It`s awkward," said John Rother, senior strategist for AARP, which supported the overhaul. "None of us would want to see the program lock people in to the more expensive existing coverage, but to switch over all those people would have definitely boosted the cost, and Congress was looking for ways to minimize it."
That means some 200,000 patients now enrolled in more than 30 state high-risk insurance pools will be stuck paying higher premiums. Many are on tight budgets, drawing down their savings and borrowing from family members.
Premiums in the new federal pool are expected to be 10 percent to 50 percent lower than current state rates, said Richard Popper, who directs Maryland`s program. Co-payments and deductibles are also expected to be considerably lower. But the only way current beneficiaries could get the federal coverage would be to drop out of their state pool and go uninsured for six months.
"That would be a very risky thing to do," said Stephen Finan, policy director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "Can you afford to go without coverage for six months in the hopes of getting a better price? It`s a big gamble."
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|April 16, 2010
|California Lawmakers Brawl Over Resolution Honoring Boy Scouts of America
(AP) Minority Republican lawmakers sponsored a resolution this week honoring the 100-year anniversary of the Boy Scouts. This being California, the political equivalent of a school-yard brawl broke out.
Democrats ultimately killed the resolution after criticizing the Boy Scouts for excluding homosexuals. Predictably, Republicans became indignant and accused Democrats of defaming a cherished American institution.
It didn`t end there.
Democrats had introduced a resolution of their own honoring the Girl Scouts and included language that noted the organization does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
That drew yet more indignation from Republicans, with one GOP lawmaker accusing Democrats of improperly introducing sexuality into what should have been innocent proclamations of support for the two iconic youth groups.
"I would love to honor the Girl Scouts," said Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Laguna Niguel. "I just don`t understand why this chamber wants to sexualize children."
The Boy Scout brouhaha started in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. After Republicans introduced the anniversary resolution, some Democratic lawmakers equated the Boy Scouts` policy of excluding gays with racism.
"Were the policy of the Boy Scouts to be that we exclude all African-Americans or Asian-Americans or Latinos, or any minority group, I don`t think there would be a single member of the Legislature that would commend them," the Judiciary Committee`s chairman, Los Angeles Democrat Mike Feuer, said in an interview later.
The resolution died in committee, wounding Republicans.
The Republicans say they were further incensed when they asked the Democrats to remove the line in the Girl Scouts resolution that honored the organization`s acceptance of any girl regardless of her sexual orientation. But the Girl Scouts resolution passed out of the committee unchanged.
"Equality for gays and lesbians shouldn`t have to be an issue that`s brought down to our children`s level," said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Diamond Bar, an Eagle Scout and author of the Boy Scouts resolution. "Political agendas at the Capitol got in the way of this."
Feuer said he was never asked to amend the Girl Scouts resolution, calling the Republican claims "utterly false."
The Girl Scouts resolution advanced Thursday to the Assembly floor, where the partisan sniping continued.
When it was time for the Assembly to vote, Assembly Majority Leader Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, asked members for a simple voice vote, the typical way to approve resolutions.
But after it passed on the voice vote, Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, a San Diego Democrat who authored the Girl Scouts resolution, asked for an additional roll call vote. That meant each lawmaker`s vote would be a matter of record.
Republicans, of course, objected. Hagman said GOP lawmakers wanted to commend the Girl Scouts but did not want be on the record condoning their stance on sexual orientation. The resolution passed the 80-member house 48-4, with most Republicans abstaining.
Girl Scouts of America spokeswoman Michelle Tompkins said the organization was pleased with the honor given by California lawmakers and proud of its long tradition of including anyone.
In the end, California honored the Girl Scouts but not the Boy Scouts -- which issued a statement saying it appreciated the effort.
"This is a long-standing societal issue," Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said regarding the group`s membership policies.
The Girl Scouts resolution will now be taken up in the Senate.
|April 15, 2010
|Lieberman warns he`ll issue subpoenas over Fort Hood shootings
(The Hill) Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) accused the Obama administration of stalling a congressional investigation into the Fort Hood shootings and threatened to start issuing subpoenas.
His vow opens a new rift with the White House for the Independent Lieberman, as well as the possibility of President Barack Obama’s first legal showdown with Congress.
At a press conference Thursday, Lieberman said he would give the administration until Monday to release information about the shootings and, if it didn’t, would start subpoenaing.
Lieberman and ranking Homeland Security panel member Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said they would issue the subpoenas to the Defense Department and Justice Department under their own authority and would seek full committee approval to take the administration to court if the information isn’t released.
A stern Lieberman said he and Collins have been stalled for five months in their attempts to seek answers in the Nov. 5, 2009, tragedy at the Texas military base, in which 13 people were shot dead. An Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan, is accused of the murders, which Lieberman and others have described as an act of terrorism because Hasan had been in contact with Islamic clerics and may have acted out of opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The White House on Thursday referred requests for comment to the Defense Department.
For now, it is unclear how the administration plans to react to Lieberman’s subpoena threat.
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|April 15, 2010
|New Effort Launched to Protect Rights of Churches
(Christian Post) A Christian legal group has launched a new effort aimed at protecting churches from excessive and unconstitutional government intrusion.
Launched Wednesday, Alliance Defense Fund’s Church Project provides legal information to pastors and ministry leaders on how to defend their religious freedom in America as well as practical guidelines on issues such as public funding and hiring policies.
“Pastors and churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government. That’s exactly why the Constitution protects religious freedom,” says ADF senior counsel Kevin Theriot, who heads the Church Project.
But these days, pastors and church leaders are being pressured to be silent on moral issues such as life, liberty, marriage and the family. Government officials from the local to federal level are “determined to muzzle” church leaders who proclaim the biblical views on these issues, ADF contends.
“These officials are encroaching as never before on the autonomy of churches and their leaders, to the point that pastors’ ability to proclaim the full counsel of God’s Word is endangered,” the legal group asserts on the Church Project.
In recent years, churches have faced legal problems related to use of public facilities for worship services, zoning laws and land ordinances. But ADF says the “most intimidating intrusion” is the threat of IRS audits and loss of 501(c)(3) tax exemption for churches whose pastor speaks from a biblical standpoint about the positions of political candidates on moral issues.
Historians have largely credited America’s independence to the “moral force of the pulpit,” ADF points out.
“Pastors have proclaimed Scriptural truth throughout history on great moral issues such as slavery, women’s suffrage, child labor and prostitution,” notes the group on the website of another initiatve, the Pulpit Initiative. “Pastors have also spoken from the pulpit with great frequency for and against various candidates for government office.”
ADF’s Pulpit Initiative, launched in 2008, has been integrated into the Church Project as one of the broader efforts. One of the highlights of the initiative is the annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday – a day when pastors across the country are urged to preach from the pulpit on the position of political candidates based on a biblical perspective. The act is done in defiance to the IRS rule that says nonprofits with tax-exempt status cannot endorse a candidate or be involved in political activity.
“The future of religious liberty in America hinges in large part on the outcomes of these legal issues … and on the willingness of all pastors and church leaders, whether or not they themselves are directly persecuted, to act, minister and speak up boldly for the God-given freedoms protected by our Constitution,” states the group on the Church Project’s website.
“Even erosions of religious liberty that seem small threaten the Church’s ability to be the Church,” adds Theriot.
Established in 1994, ADF is a national legal organization defending people of faith. The Christian legal group provides strategy, training, and funding in the legal battle for religious liberty, sanctity of life, and traditional family values.
|April 15, 2010
|Christians Divided Over Student Response to LGBT ‘Day of Silence’
(Christian Post) For the past few years, Christian groups have been divided over how to respond to the annual Day of Silence.
Some urge parents to pull their children from school that day in protest. They say the observance is not as innocuous as it seems.
Others encourage Christian students to attend school and show support for school safety for all students, not just gay ones.
“We agree that every student should be protected from bullying and harassment, and that no student should be hurt or ridiculed, no matter who they are or what they believe,” said Candi Cushman, education analyst at Focus on the Family, according to the ministry’s publication, Citizenlink.
“But parents need to be aware that the Day of Silence unnecessarily politicizes and sexualizes the school environment, paving the way for classroom lessons that advocate and normalize things like same-sex marriage and cross-dressing,” added Cushman, whose ministry supports the Day of Truth, a faith-based counter-event that encourages dialogue.
Since 2001, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has been officially promoting the Day of Silence as a time where students across the nation can learn more about anti-LGBT bullying in schools.
Over the course of the day, students from middle school to college take some form of a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior. Teachers are also encouraged to discuss the meaning behind the day and observe several minutes of silence with students to show solidarity with victims of anti-gay bullying.
The event, organizers say, is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of this bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.
While Christian groups condemn bullying of gay students, some have accused GLSEN of using the day to indoctrinate students and get them to lobby for the homosexual agenda - reason enough for them to encourage parents to keep their children at home.
In making their case, the groups – which include American Family Association, Concerned Women for America of Illinois, and SaveCalifornia.com – point to Day of Silence materials such as the GLSEN data sheet “How to Get What You Want – With an Ask!” which encourages students to use the Day of Silence to push for a more LGBT inclusive school environment and policies.
“[T]here is more than an anti-bullying message being pushed,” Focus on the Family Action commented, after taking a closer look at the materials.
FOTF, however, is not among the groups calling for parents to keep their kids at home on Friday – this year’s Day of Silence. Instead, it has encouraged parents to allow their children to participate in the Day of Truth, which falls the day before Day of Silence.
The Day of Truth, sponsored by Exodus International, promotes dialogue among students on the issue of homosexuality. Students who participate in the Day of Truth hand out cards that read: “People with differing, even opposing viewpoints, can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other. It’s time for an honest conversation about the biblical truth for sexuality. Let’s get the conversation started!”
Exodus senior director Jeff Buchanan said the day was purposely called Day of Truth because there is a foundation of truth about sexuality found in the Bible.
|April 15, 2010
|5 Bad Arguments for Legalizing Marijuana
(BreakPoint) A California legislative committee has voted to tax and regulate marijuana in the same manner in which alcohol is taxed and regulated.
Ironically, this measure came from the public safety committee. A November ballot initiative will give Californians the opportunity to legalize or criminalize the sale and distribution of pot to those who are 21 and over.
Just before the California committee’s vote, the San Francisco Chronicle documented a group of “soccer moms” who want to legalize marijuana in California because they are worried about health and legal dangers of the laced and polluted marijuana their adult children are currently buying. Sadly, instead of addressing the real problem—the fact that their adult children are smoking dope—these mothers are attacking their state’s public policy. The moral problem is being ignored.
And never mind that pill forms of marijuana, like Marinol, are legal virtually everywhere. Pot fans continue to lobby for expanded forms of marijuana in the hopes that individuals could grow marijuana plants in their homes and purchase marijuana at cafes.
And make no mistake—what’s happening in California is happening across the country. New York legislators are thinking of legalizing pot so they can collect $15 million in licensing fees. USA Today notes, “Advocates of legalizing marijuana say generational, political and cultural shift have taken the USA to a unique moment in its history of drug prohibition that could topple 40 years of tough restrictions on both medicinal and recreational marijuana use.”
This quote reflects the increasingly relativistic tone that our country is adopting. Rather than advocate for legitimate or moral reasons to allow recreational use of marijuana, advocates are reduced to appealing to a culture’s declining moral compass (or shrinking state coffers).
To be clear, the only legitimate use of marijuana is when it is medicinally used in pill form. Why? The reason the Institute of Medicine concluded that “there is little future in smoked marijuana as a medically approved medication” is because inhaling smoke is one of the worst ways to administer a drug. Medical opiates are distributed in pill form—not smoked—for the same reason.
I have decided to do the pro-marijuana advocates a favor by addressing the worst arguments for legalizing marijuana, in the hopes that they will stop using them altogether.
Bad Argument 1: “Hard” drugs are the real problem.
The elephant in the room is the dangerous and addictive nature of recreational use marijuana.
Marijuana is not only a gateway drug, but it is proving itself to be highly addictive, and its potency has increased dramatically since the 1970s. While the number of people checking into clinics for addiction to alcohol and cocaine are decreasing, the number of people checking into clinics for addiction to marijuana is increasing.
Other than the fact that it is inherently wrong, a prime benefit to keeping marijuana illegal is that judges may offer as a sentence treatment for addiction, rather than incarceration. As the drug court system expands throughout the country, there is great promise that getting people to stay off drugs permanently is possible.
At some point, we must ask why fathers, mothers, and others are willing to go to jail for extended periods of time over a “non-addictive” drug with supposedly limited negative side effects. If broccoli were illegal, I would not risk going to prison over getting my fix. Unless I were addicted.
Bad Argument 2: The benefit of legalizing marijuana outweighs the consequences of criminalizing it.
As Christians, we can never embrace consequentialism—the idea that an act is good or bad depending on its outcome. The argument, therefore, that giving drug dealers and users a pass has fewer negative consequences than prosecuting them, holds no water for us.
If we legalized everything that was difficult or inconvenient to prosecute, then we might justify human trafficking as well. For all we know, going after human traffickers could be more detrimental to the people being trafficked than if it were legal. By that argument, legalizing human trafficking could be justified because government could monitor the well being of those poor souls being trafficked, and could hold the traffickers to “on the job” safety standards.
If marijuana were suddenly legalized, we would be justifying it on the basis of convenience, not principle.
Bad Argument 3: Alcohol hurts more people then marijuana.
This is a red herring. Rather than substantiating their claim that marijuana is safe, proponents direct our attention to the devastating effects of alcohol abuse. Would these people be satisfied if alcohol were made illegal alongside marijuana? In fact, even though alcohol is legal and regulated, we still have alcoholics and the tragic consequences of its abuse. So, why would legalizing marijuana be a step in the right direction?
Theologically, this is a weak argument as well. The purpose of the law is to preserve order and enforce justice. The law should resemble the moral consent of the society, as long as those laws accord with God’s law. Voicing his objection to drug legalization, Chuck Colson wrote that “this would be tantamount to society’s saying that drug use is all right, that we find no moral objections to it. To take away the law takes away the moral condemnation that the law reflects: that drug use and other publicly destructive vices are morally objectionable.”
The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church (CCC 2291) presents an argument that I believe all Christians could agree with: “The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.” The Catechism does not differentiate whether or not recreational drugs are legally or illegally acquired, since their only legitimate use is on “strictly therapeutic grounds.”
Bad Argument 4: The war on drugs is too expensive.
Case in point: The Drug Enforcement Administration is the largest such organization in the world. Because much of the property owned by drug dealers is seized as a result of their illegal dealings, the taxpayer benefits greatly from a policy known as “asset forfeiture.” A considerable portion of the war on drugs has been funded by the forfeiture of houses, cars, boats, cash, businesses, jewelry, TVs, surveillance equipment, and countless other items. In 1991, for instance, the DEA seized over $208 million in marijuana related cases, which only accounted for 22 percent of total assets seized.
Bad Argument 5: Legalizing marijuana will run the drug cartels out of business.
Really? The very same hoodlums who are murdering thousands of policemen and rivals in Mexico will lay down their arms, put their machetes away, and ply another trade as soon as we legalize marijuana?
But what if they decide to run prostitution rings or gambling rings instead? Perhaps we will have to legalize those vices as well. It reminds me of the old joke about the exterminator who doesn’t really kill the termites; he just captures them and takes them to the next house.
Years back, Americans were infuriated with Nike because of its use of child labor in other countries. Rightly so. Yet the pro-marijuana crowd refuses to consider the murderous consequences of America’s appetite for narcotics.
If we can’t get ordinary citizens to stop funneling their money to the most violent and brutal degenerates in the world, then why would we expect drug dealers to change their ways?
Hope in a dark discussion
The greatest tragedy of the drug decriminalization movement is that they sympathize not with the farmers whose land is stolen, or the children who get caught in the crossfire of drug wars, but with the Americans who knowingly use and traffic drugs sold by the most ruthless and bloodthirsty criminal enterprises in the world.
In the end, there is no legitimate moral or pragmatic reason to legalize a drug that destroys the lives of those addicted to it and that fuels crime and corruption. Please pray for victims of the drug trade and the moral compass of drug users and supporters of illicit drug use.
And pray that the church will have the courage to speak the truth in love as the debate over legalizing marijuana grows hotter.
|April 15, 2010
|`California Dream Act` clears first hurdle
(Sacramento Bee) The "California Dream Act," which would grant illegal immigrants access to student financial aid benefits, cleared its first legislative hurdle today, gaining approval of the Senate Education Committee on a party-line vote.
The author of highly controversial Senate Bill 1460, Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, told the committee that it would benefit "young people who are here due to no decision of their own."
"They are our future (and) they deserve our support," he added later. No one testified against the bill.
Cedillo has attempted to enact the financial aid bill several times before, only to see his measures rejected by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who two years ago cited the state`s "precarious fiscal condition" in his veto message.
Cedillo`s measure would expand on a 2001 measure that exempts allows illegal immigrant students from paying non-resident college fees. The "AB 540 students," so named for the number of the 2001 legislation, make up scarcely 1 percent of the students enrolled in the state`s three systems of higher education, according to data submitted to the Education Committee. But whether they will continue to receive the lower fee and, if the Cedillo bill passes, financial aid is legally murky.
AB 540, signed by Schwarzenegger`s predecessor, Gray Davis, was challenged in court. It survived the first test in Superior Court but a state appellate court subsequently overturned it, saying state law could not supersede federal law governing illegal immigrants. But the approximately 40,000 "AB 540 students" have continued to pay resident fees while the case remains on appeal to the state Supreme Court.
|April 15, 2010
|Court Rules National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional
(CNSNews) A federal district court in Wisconsin ruled on Thursday that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, a decision that has angered a constitutional law firm that filed an amicus brief defending the National Day of Prayer.
The case was filed by The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based group that challenged the constitutionality of a 1988 law giving the president authority to designate the first Thursday in May as National Day of Prayer.
"It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ.
"This decision runs counter to well established legal precedent and we`re confident that this flawed decision ultimately will be overturned. We will be filing a brief representing members of Congress challenging this federal district court decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit,” Sekulow said in a statement.
“If the appeals court fails to reverse this decision, we`re confident the Supreme Court will hear the case and ultimately determine that such proclamations and observances like the National Day of Prayer not only reflect our nation`s rich history, but are indeed consistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment," he added.
According to the ACLJ brief, the U.S. has a long history of recognizing a national day of prayer dating back to the late 1700’s with the Continental Congress, recommending that states set aside a day for prayer and thanksgiving. Therefore, “historical evidence establishing a National Day of Prayer as deeply embedded in the tradition and history of this country is indisputable,” the brief stated.
"This is the first step in what could be a lengthy legal process that ultimately puts this issue before the Supreme Court. This issue could very well be decided by the next appointee to the high court,” Sekulow said. “An issue like this underscores the importance of why it`s so critical for the nominee to answer direct questions about their judicial philosophy, how they view the role of judges, and their view of the rule of law."
|April 14, 2010
|Scientists Under Fire for Creating Designer Embryo, Unborn Child With Three Parents
(LifeSiteNews) Scientists in England are under fire for creating a "designer embryo" -- an unborn child with the DNA of one man and two women. The idea is to be able to offer a way to cerate unborn children for families concerned about giving birth to a child with physical or mental disabilities.
The procedure is referred to as three person in-vitro fertilization and researchers at Newcastle University hope the IVF technique will prevent damaged DNA in mitochondria from getting passed along to offspring.
The process involves the removal of sperm and egg from the affected couples and leaving the mitochondria behind. The scientists put the nuclei into one of the fertilized eggs left over after the in-vitro techniques of other women that have their nuclei removed but their mitochondria retained.
The process draws strong opposition from pro-life groups because scientists created 80 unborn children who were destroyed in the process to obtain the one healthy embryo who would then be implanted for the remainder of the pregnancy to continue.
Lead researcher Professor Doug Turnbull told the Sun newspaper, "What we`ve done is like changing the battery on a laptop."
Josephine Quintavalle, a British pro-life advocate who heads the group CORE, told the newspaper she opposes the destructive process, saying, ""They are creating a child with two mothers. We have to find better ways to cure diseases."
Officials with the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children also responded and told LifeNews.com scientists should stop killing and abusing human beings in experiments.
"None of the 80 or more embryos created by the Newcastle team were allowed to live," Anthony Ozimic, SPUC`s communications manager, commented. "Each of those embryos were members of the human family, with a right to life equal to those of the scientists who killed them. Human life begins at conception. Any grounds for denying human rights to human embryos are arbitrary and self-serving."
"Creating embryonic children in the laboratory abuses them, by subjecting them to unnatural processes. As with IVF and cloning, this mitochondrial technique may well lead to developmental abnormalities," he added.
Ozimic said, "Scientists should respect human life and pursue ethical alternatives which are much more likely to be successful in the long-term."
|April 14, 2010
|Landmark Law Passed in Nebraska
(National Right to Life) Good News! On Tuesday, the Nebraska Legislature passed the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act." The new law prohibits abortions in Nebraska after the unborn child can feel pain, which happens at twenty weeks. LRC and Nebraska Right to Life lobbyists successfully worked closely with Nebraska Speaker Mike Flood to make the bill`s language as strong as possible. The legislation is the first of its kind. It is being described by observers as nothing short of "landmark." No state has ever passed a similar pain law.
The law will save lives. It will protect the twenty-week and older unborn child in the womb from the pain and horror of abortion. It will protect mothers from the grief that so often accompanies the decision to abort. The law is expected to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. If so, it could redefine a state`s legitimate interest in protecting the child in the womb.
This bill is a real victory for grassroots pro-life Americans and the unborn.
|April 14, 2010
|Jersey School Calls off (Cross) Dress Reversal
(Family Research Council) There are plenty of ways to celebrate Women`s History Month, but according to parents in New Jersey, asking third grade boys to dress up like girls shouldn`t be one of them. As part of a graded assignment at Maude Wilkins Elementary School, teacher Tonya Uibel sent a letter home asking parents to cross-dress their kids for a "fashion show" that "just happened" to coincide with the homosexuals` Day of Silence. "If your child is a young man," Uibel wrote, "he does not have to wear a dress or skirt, as there are many time periods where women wore jeans, pants, and trousers."
Mom Janine Giandomenico, who led the charge against the idea, said her son was horrified at the idea and begged her not to make him do it. "My husband and I are very open-minded, but... [t]he school system is trying to introduce alternative lifestyles in a sneaky way. At nine years old, I`m not ready to have the conversation with my son about homosexuals, lesbians, and cross-dressing." Principal Beth Norcia got so many complaints that she ultimately cancelled the event, claiming her teacher had been "misunderstood." Actually, parents understand all too well what the point of this exercise was: to give the transgender community an opportunity to indoctrinate their kids!
|April 14, 2010
|Measure to repeal Prop. 8 fails to qualify for November ballot
|(Sacramento Bee) A push to put a repeal of Proposition 8 on the November ballot has fizzled, as proponents announced today they failed to collect the nearly 700,000 valid voter signatures to qualify their proposed initiative.
"Our signature collection effort may have fallen short, but we stand tall as being the only statewide campaign that fought for repealing Proposition 8 in 2010," Sean Bohac, Chair of the Restore Equality 2010 Statewide Advisory Panel, said in a statement.
The group, Restore Equality 2010, had split with Equality California, one of the state`s largest gay-rights advocacy groups, on when to put a repeal of the 2008 Proposition 8 on the ballot. EQCA and other groups decided last year to hold off on ballot action until 2012, saying that strategy would allow more time to build support and that the measure would likely fare better during a presidential election year, when more younger voters hit the polls.
Proponents of the 2010 proposed initiative said they plan to join forces with the other gay-rights groups pushing to legalize same-sex marriage in 2012, beginning a signature-collecting drive to qualify a measure in summer 2011.
"Our campaign is now focused on 2012, and that effort starts today," Bohac said in the statement. "We will continue to fight for marriage equality every year until the battle is won."
Though proponents cited recent polls showing majority support for same-sex marriage as a sign of momentum, critics said the measure`s failure shows Californians have accepted the results of Prop 8.
"Efforts to repeal Prop 8 failed because the majority of Californians do not want to revisit this issue: Even the minority of Californians who voted against Prop 8 have accepted that the majority rules and moved on to other issues," said Brian Brown, executive director of National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage.
|April 14, 2010
|Health Law Bans New Doctor-Owned Hospitals, Blocks Expansion of Existing Ones
(CNSNews) The new health care overhaul law, which promised increased access and efficiency in health care, will prevent doctor-owned hospitals from adding more rooms and more beds, says a group that advocates physician involvement in every aspect of health care delivery.
Physician-owned hospitals are advertised as less bureaucratic and more focused on doctor-patient decision making. However, larger corporate hospitals say doctor-owned facilities discriminate in favor of high-income patients and refer business to themselves.
The new health care rules single out such hospitals, making new physician-owned projects ineligible to receive payments for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Existing doctor-owned hospitals will be grandfathered in to get government funds for patients but must seek permission from the Department of Health and Human Services to expand.
To get the department’s permission, a doctor-owned hospital must be in a county where population growth is 150 percent of the population growth of the state in the last five years; inpatient admissions must be equal to all hospitals located in the county; the bed-occupancy rate must not be greater than the state average, and the hospital must be located in a state where hospital bed capacity is less than the national average.
The rules fall under Title VI, Section 6001 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The provision is titled “Physician Ownership and Other Transparency – Limitations on Medicare Exceptions to the Prohibition on Certain Physician Referral for Hospitals.”
More than 60 doctor-owned hospitals across the country that were in the development stage will be canceled, said Molly Sandvig, executive director of Physician Hospitals of America (PHA).
|April 14, 2010
|Family-friendly = box office-friendly
(OnewNewsNow) Family-friendly movies continue to make a positive impact at the box office, and some are even receiving critical acclaim.
The Parents Television Council (PTC) says the release of the Oscar-winning The Blind Side on DVD and this past weekend`s opening of Letters to God shows that family-friendly movies can succeed.
Melissa Henson, director of communications with the PTC, believes the message for Hollywood is clear: "Family-friendly films -- audiences will turn out to support them."
"The Blind Side did very well, and even before the Academy Awards, when the movie audiences were polled about who they would like to see win the best actress Academy Award for that movie, a lot of people were pulling for Sandra Bullock because of this role and because this was such a powerful and moving film," Henson points out.
"So people will turn out to support family-friendly entertainment," she summarizes. "Not only that, but you can also enjoy critical success. You can enjoy success at the Academy Awards if you do treat people of faith with respect."
The PTC communications director encourages Christians to continue supporting movies such as The Blind Side and Letters to God.
|April 09, 2010
|U.S. Birth Rate Drops Below Replacement Level
(LifeSiteNews) U.S. births dropped 2% in 2008, bringing the country`s birth rate below replacement level, new government statistics released Tuesday reveal.
The U.S. National Vital Statistics Report showed that the U.S. birth rate dropped in 2008 to 2.08 births per woman, below the 2.1 level needed to replace the population. The report indicates that the birth rate had surpassed replacement level for 2006 and 2007, after having been below replacement since 1972.
The drop in 2008 follows a period of growth, with fertility in 2007 reaching its highest point in two decades. The country saw 4.2 million births, down from 4.3 million the year before.
The decline included a 2% drop in births among teenage girls, which had been on the rise the two previous years, with 41.5 births per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 19.
The birth rate for women in their twenties, the main childbearing years, fell 2 to 3 percent, but the rate for women aged 40-44 increased 4% to 9.9 births per 1,000 women, the highest since 1967.
While the reasons for the decline are unclear, the Washington Post suggests that the drop is linked to the economic recession. They cite a study from the Pew Research Center indicating that the birthrate fell more in states that were more heavily affected by the recession, and vice versa. They also pointed out an October Pew survey that found 14% of Americans aged 18 to 34 and 8% aged 35 to 44 had chosen to postpone birth due to the recession.
|April 08, 2010
|Child Tax Credit for Families
(Family Research Council) The tax relief for families passed by Congress in 2001 and 2003 was appreciated by American families, but it was ultimately short-sighted. The tax cuts were both staggered and temporary.
If these cuts are not made permanent, come 2011, American families will face one of the largest tax increases in history; average taxes would rise $1,800 per taxpayer, and 48 million married couples will face an average hike of $3,007 -- with many paying more than if they merely cohabited. A family of four earning $40,000 would see an increase of over $2,300 in taxes. If the tax relief is allowed to expire at the end of 2010, Americans will pay about $280 billion more in taxes each year.
This is all in addition to the tax increases that President Obama has already passed in legislation like his massive health care takeover!
If Congress and President Obama truly wanted to help families, he would make permanent the Child Tax Credit and then go further and increase the credit to $5,000 for everyone, letting families decide how to spend the money.
A vastly expanded child tax credit, applicable against both income and payroll taxes, would reduce the tax burden quite a bit for lower middle class families.
Please sign the petition to urge Congress to empower parents to make the decisions that are best for their child. Increase the Child Tax Credit and make it permanent for all families!
|April 08, 2010
|IRS Says Health Care Coverage Fines Not Punitive, But Admits Govt Can Keep Refunds If Fines Not Paid
(CNSNews.com) IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said on Monday that the health care bill signed into law last month by President Barack Obama is not “punitive,” but that the agency could withhold tax refunds if it determines a taxpayer does not have mandatory health care coverage and should pay a fine, as stipulated in the law.
The new health care law mandates that every American have health insurance, either on their own or through their employer. If a person refuses to buy health insurance, he can be penalized financially by the federal government.
“I think there’s a couple of important points that I would make, though, about our role in health reform,” Shulman said during a question-and-answer session following a speech at the National Press Club on Monday. “One is that these are not the kinds of things – check the box whether you’re here or not -- that we send agents out. These are things where you get a letter from us.”
“Second is, Congress was very careful to make sure there was nothing too punitive in this bill,” Shulman said. “And so, we do not have authority – first of all, there’s no criminal sanctions for not paying this and there’s no ability to levy bank accounts, do seizures or some of the other tools.”
“So our role is going to be straight-forward,” Shulman said.
When asked by someone in the audience how the Internal Revenue Service would make sure people are complying with the health insurance mandate without sanctions, Shulman said his agency had the means to collect fines, which could range from several hundred for an individual to as much as 2.5 percent of household income, according to a GOP analysis based on a Mar. 18 Congressional Budget Office report on the cost of the health care law.
“People will get letters from us,” Shulman said. “We can actually do collections if need be; people can get offsets of their tax returns in future years.
“So there are a variety of ways for us to focus on things like fraud, things like abuse and we’re going to run a balanced program,” Shulman said.
Shulman said Americans have a high compliance rate when it comes to paying taxes.
“The vast majority of Americans have a healthy respect for the law and want to be compliant with their tax obligations and whatever else the law holds,” Shulman said.
As CNSNews.com reported, under the new law, every individual and most businesses are required to report to the IRS, on their tax returns, whether they have purchased or provided the required level of coverage and disclose to the IRS which months, if any, in which they failed to do so.
Using this information, the IRS would then determine whether an employer or individual falls under the individual health insurance mandate, which contains exceptions for religious conscience, hardship, incarcerated persons, and members of Indian tribes.
If either an individual or a business has failed to comply with this mandate for any month out of the year, they are required to pay a separate tax to the IRS. For individuals this is a maximum of $750 per person (up to $2,250 per household) and $750 per uncovered employee for businesses.
Because these penalties would each apply on a monthly basis, individuals and employers would have to pay 1/12th of the maximum penalties for each month they failed to comply with the mandates.
|April 08, 2010
|Amish can obtain an exemption from health care
(WorldNetDaily) The recent health-care reform legislation carries a controversial mandate that all Americans obtain health insurance, but careful study of the passed law reveals there are some groups – the Amish, for example – that can obtain an exemption.
For devout Muslims, however, whose religious beliefs forbid purchasing insurance, the mandate is still binding, religion or not. And most other religious, political or conscientious objectors will similarly find themselves out of luck if they hope to be excused from the requirement.
There is a clause in the fine print, however, that could provide an out for those willing to take it.
Section 1501 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act adds a new chapter to the Internal Revenue Code mandating all "applicable" individuals either obtain health insurance that meets the bill`s "minimum essential coverage" standards or pay a penalty on tax day.
Section 1501 also spells out exceptions, those who are not considered "applicable" individuals, both for the mandate and for the penalty. Illegal aliens, foreign nationals and incarcerated prisoners, for example, are exempt from the mandate. The extreme poor and members of Indian tribes, while not exempt from the requirement, are nonetheless excused from paying the penalty.
But section 1501 also carries a pair of "religious exemptions" that will allow the Amish to escape the mandate but require Muslims and other religious objectors to get creative.
The law creates a religious exemption for those who are members and faithful adherents of a "recognized religious sect or division" with "established tenets or teachings" barring the "acceptance of the benefits of any private or public insurance."
For individuals who do not belong to a denomination with specific bans on insurance, therefore, personal religious objections will not exempt them from the mandate.
But even for Muslims, who may belong to a sect with clearly established teachings banning insurance, the bill still presents a problem.
For many Muslims, conventional health insurance is considered forbidden, because it is based on a system of uncertain outcomes akin to gambling on the future and the charging of interest.
The health-care reform bill`s language, however, specifically states that for a sect to qualify for the religious exemption, it must fall within the definitions of section 1402(g) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. That section requires a sect to have been in constant existence since at least Dec. 31, 1950, and requires the sect to reject not only insurance but also have sworn off receiving all benefits from the U.S. Social Security system.
According to the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies website, traditional Amish groups may dodge the mandate because they have been exempted from participating in Social Security for decades.
"The Amish viewed it as a form of commercial insurance, which they opposed," explains the website produced by Elizabethtown College in the Plain People country of Lancaster County, Pa. "They believe that members of the church should care for each others` physical and material needs. Thus, most of them do not pay into Social Security or receive payments from it. In some states, the Amish have also been exempted from workers compensation (insurance for on-the-job injuries) for the same reason."
For Muslims, however, Social Security is considered a form of caring for the poor, rather than an insurance gamble. While refusing typical insurance is common in Muslim circles, participation in the Social Security system is more widely accepted.
Most of the Amish, therefore, will qualify for the religious exemption, while most other Christians, Muslims and people of other religions will not.
Conscientious objectors to the mandate, also excluded from any exemption, have already voiced their intent to challenge the law because they don`t think the requirement is legal.
"If [the Amish] can do it for religious objection, well, I have a different type of objection," Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute told Fox News. "I think I`m being coerced into doing something against my will, and so the challenge would be from a different perspective."
Outside of court battles, however, this is one more way certain religious individuals may be able to slip out of the mandate.
How the non-Amish might still obtain an exemption
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides a second form of religious exemption, one for those who are members of "of a health-care sharing ministry," which is defined as a non-profit, health-insurance alternative program, where members typically pay in regular dues and then contribute toward one another`s medical costs.
To qualify for the exemption, the Act requires a sharing ministry to meet the following conditions:
- It must be a qualifying 501(c)(3) organization exempt from taxation under section 501(a)
- It`s members must "share a common set of ethical or religious beliefs and share medical expenses among members in accordance with those beliefs and without regard to the state in which a member resides or is employed"
- Its members must retain their memberships, even after developing medical conditions
- The sharing ministry or its predecessor must have been in existence at all times since Dec. 31, 1999, and medical expenses of its members must have been shared continuously and without interruption since at least Dec. 31, 1999
- It must conduct annual audits made available to the public on request and performed by an independent certified public accounting firm.
The Amish – thus double qualifying for exemption from the mandate – have participated in such co-ops for years. But there are also several such ministries established in the U.S. for people of other faiths and denominations.
Christian Healthcare Ministries, for example, is a 501(c)(3) cost-sharing ministry that claims its more than 100,000 members have shared more than $500 million in medical bills over the last 20 years.
"Christian Healthcare Ministries is not a health-insurance company," the group`s website explains. "Rather, we are a group of thousands of Christians across the United States and around the world who share each other`s burdens in the area of health-care costs. We also pray for and encourage one another."
Among similar groups are Medi-Share and Samaritan Ministries.
Muslims have also developed similar programs in line with the Islamic principal of takaful, or mutual sharing of one another`s needs. Dozens of these programs have sprung up throughout Arab nations since the 1960s but have been a newer phenomenon in the U.S. and are difficult to find. WND contacted several Islamic relations and education organizations as well as financial institutions and was unable to find a takaful-insurance program covering medical expenses for American Muslims.
|April 08, 2010
|Oregon Doctor Warns Canadians to Reject Assisted Suicide Legislation
(LifeSiteNews.com) - A doctor practicing in one of the two U.S. states where physician-assisted suicide is legal has written an open letter to Canadians advising them to beware of the "misguided legislation" of Bill C-384, the bill that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.
"A message to my Canadian neighbors" was written by Dr. William Toffler, the national director of Physicians for Compassionate Care in Portland Oregon, a national organization of physicians who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide in the U.S.
Dr. Toffler writes that, "Since assisted suicide has become an option in my state of Oregon, I have had at least a dozen patients discuss this choice with me in my practice. Most of the patients who have broached this issue weren’t even terminal."
"Many studies show that assisted suicide requests are almost always for psychological or social reasons," Dr. Toffler observes. "In Oregon there has never been any documented case of assisted suicide used because there was actual untreatable pain. As such, assisted suicide has been totally unnecessary in Oregon."
Furthermore, "the legislation passed in Oregon does not require that the patient have unbearable suffering, or any suffering at all for that matter."
In his practice Dr. Toffler has found that requests for suicide are very often cries for help rather that demands for death.
"How physicians respond to the patient’s request has a profound effect, not only on a patient’s choices, but also on their view of themselves and their inherent worth."
"When a patient says, `I want to die`; it may simply mean, `I feel useless.` When a patient says, `I don’t want to be a burden`; it may really be a question, `Am I a burden?` When a patient says, `I’ve lived a long life already`; they may really be saying, `I’m tired. I’m afraid I can’t keep going.` And, finally, when a patient says, `I might as well be dead`; they may really be saying, `No one cares about me.`"
Dr. Toffler has observed a two-fold consequence of the introduction of assisted suicide in Oregon: 1) fear of the motives of doctors or consultants arising in the minds of patients, and 2) a change in attitude toward patient care within the healthcare system itself.
"People with serious illnesses are sometimes fearful of the motives of doctors or consultants," Dr. Toffler notes. "Such fears were never an issue before assisted suicide was legalized."
"Most problematic for me has been the change in attitude within the healthcare system itself," Dr Toffler continues. "In Oregon, I regularly receive notices that many important services and drugs for my patients — even some pain medications — won’t be paid for by the State health plan. At the same time, assisted suicide is fully covered and sanctioned by the State of Oregon and by our collective tax dollars."
"I urge Canadian leaders to reject the seductive siren of assisted suicide embodied in C-384," Dr. Toffler concludes. "Oregon has literally tasted the bitter pill (barbiturate overdoses) and many now know that our legislation is hopelessly flawed. I believe Canada, with its tradition of excellent palliative and hospice care, should continue to strive to be a model for the rest of the world by rejecting this misguided legislation."
Bill C-384 had its first hour of debate in Canada`s parliament on March 16, 2010.
The bill is currently scheduled to receive its second-hour of debate on Tuesday, April 20 and to be voted on Wednesday April 21.
Alex Schadenberg of Canada`s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition said he "believes that Francine Lalonde, the Bloc Quebecois MP who sponsored C-384, will once-again try to trade-back in the order of precedence to delay the defeat of Bill C-384. She may not be able to trade-back."
"You need to contact your MP NOW," Schadenberg urged, "and tell them that you oppose Bill C-384."
Dr. Toffler`s letter has been posted to the website of Canadians for Care, a grassroots movement among doctors in Canada that proposes comprehensive care for the needs of patients as an alternative to assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Contact info for all MPs is available here.
An analysis of the proposed euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation is available for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition website here.
|April 06, 2010
|National Pro-Life T-Shirt Week Will Reach Young Americans Against Abortion
(LifeSiteNews) Tens of thousands of pro-life students will wear pro-life t-shirts to their middle school, high school and college campuses later this month. As they wear shirts with messages against abortion, they will be educating and informing their peers about the way abortion has killed 52 million Americans.
Seven years ago, the organizers of the Rock for Life youth pro-life group came up with the idea for a national pro-life t-shirt day.
Since the idea has become so popular with the youth and young adults -- who polls often show are more pro-life than their parents -- organizers expanded the day to a full week.
"Primarily, we are concerned with getting people to think of the child as a person from the moment of his or her biological inception. It is much harder to murder a person than it is to `remove a lump of tissues,` and it is only when we finally get the nation thinking in those terms that we will be able to restore the right to life of our pre-born brothers and sisters," Scott Carroll, the project director for the event, explained.
"Just by wearing the T-shirt and being out there in public, you will help to accomplish that goal," he said.
Annie Casselman, the director of Generations for Life, a pro-life outreach to youth, is also on board and encourages young people to wear pro-life t-shirts.
"The great thing about wearing a pro-life T-shirt at your school, at work, or wherever, is that it gets people talking about the humanity of the unborn child and the violence of abortion -- which a lot of people never think about," she said.
The event takes place from April 27 through May 3 and pro-life students are encouraged to wear their favorite pro-life t-shirts every day that week or as many days as possible.
Some students have encountered problems from school officials in wearing the shirts and they have been forced to remove them or sent home from school.
However, pro-life legal groups like the Alliance Defense Fund and Thomas More Society have provided free legal support for students and their families. In most cases, they`ve been successful in getting school officials to back down or restore the First Amendment rights of pro-life students wearing t-shirts against abortion.
Related web sites:
National Pro-Life T-Shirt Week - http://www.npltw.com
|April 06, 2010
|The truth about homosexual sex
Caution: This column contains descriptions that some may find offensive.
(OneNewsNow) The Centers for Disease Control recently released information from a data analysis regarding the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Presented at the CDC`s National STD Prevention Conference, the data indicated that the rate of new HIV cases among men who have sex with men (referred to in shorthand as MSM) is over 44 times that of other men.
In an effort to look at these figures from a purely scientific and public health perspective, let`s substitute smoking and cancer for homosexual sex and HIV. If the CDC released information which made a direct correlation between smoking and extremely high rates of getting cancer, people would take notice. The media would write about it. Public health organizations would make sure the news was spread. Campaigns would be launched to save lives by discouraging smoking. Public funds would be spent to deter people from engaging in such dangerous behavior. Schools would teach children about the dangers of smoking.
Of course, as we all know, that scenario is real. Because of the now-known dangers of smoking, a warning from the Surgeon General appears on every pack of cigarettes. Public service ads saturated the airwaves over a period of years discouraging smoking. The dangers of smoking are a standard part of most health classes in schools. And it has all worked. Thirty years ago there was nothing unusual about seeing a person smoking in a restaurant, or in an office, or in a public place. Now it`s jarring to see someone lurking outside an office building, lighting up and puffing away.
There is no hiding from the CDC`s numbers when it comes to the health dangers of homosexual sex. But political correctness and fear of being accused of bias seem to have stopped everyone from stating the simple truth: that it carries serious health risks.
Click here to read the entire article and watch the commentary.
|April 06, 2010
|Scam Artists Take Advantage of New Health Care Law
(AP) Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday she is warning state officials about a proliferation of scams involving phony health insurance policies.
Scam artists are taking advantage of the new health insurance law to peddle phony policies.
Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday she is warning state officials about a proliferation of scams involving phony health insurance policies. Federal investigators are also on the lookout.
Some of the hustlers are going door to door claiming there`s a limited open-enrollment period to buy health insurance now. But the big expansion of coverage won`t come for another four years, and door-to-door salespeople are unlikely to be part of the plan then.
"Unfortunately, scam artists and criminals may be using the passage of these historic reforms as an opportunity to confuse and defraud the public," Sebelius wrote in a letter to state insurance commissioners and attorneys general.
In the letter, released Tuesday, she urged vigorous prosecution of anyone caught selling fraudulent policies.
The new health care law will ultimately provide coverage to more than 30 million uninsured, but those changes will come slowly, beginning with smaller steps.
As early as the summer, people who have been turned down for coverage because of a medical problem will be able to buy a plan through a new high-risk health insurance pool. Many states already operate such pools, but the coverage has been expensive, and only about 200,000 are signed up. The new health care law provides an infusion of federal dollars to bring down costs and cover more people.
Then in the fall, two other consumer benefits take effect. Insurance plans will no longer be able to deny coverage to children with medical problems. And parents will be able to keep their adult children on their policies until they turn 26.
While those measures may make a big difference for particular families, experts say it will only lead to a small decline in the number of uninsured people, which now is nearly 50 million.
The big push to cover the uninsured comes in 2014, when new health insurance marketplaces will open for business and federal tax credits will start flowing to millions of working families and individuals. At the same time, Medicaid will be expanded to more people living near the poverty line. And health insurers will not be able to turn anyone down on account of a medical problem.
Once those tax credits and new consumer protections are in place, most Americans will be required to carry health insurance. The nearly $1 trillion, ten-year law will provide coverage to an estimated 94 percent of eligible Americans when it is fully phased in.
|April 05, 2010
|Susan G. Komen for the Cure Deepens Ties With Planned Parenthood Abortion Business
(LifeNews.com) The Komen for the Cure breast cancer foundation has been under fire from pro-life advocates for years for its ties to the Planned Parenthood abortion business. In a new column, pro-life writer Jill Stanek uncovers new information showing the link between the two groups is deepening.
Komen`s ties to Planned Parenthood are well documented and figures from STOPP International show Komen chapters giving $711,485 from April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2006 to Planned Parenthood affiliates.
And in numbers provided to the Associated Press, Susan G. Komen for the Cure spokeswoman Rebecca Gibson confirmed 19 of the 122 Komen affiliates made grants totaling $374,253 to Planned Parenthood during the 2005-2006 fiscal year.
Figures show Komen affiliates have given Planned Parenthood $3 million between 2003 and 2008 and $805,000 in the 2008 fiscal year.
Those donations and links have continued as Komen affiliates in California, Idaho, Colorado, Iowa, Texas, and other states have either made donations or worked with Planned Parenthood abortion centers.
Now, Stanek indicates a pro-life advocate in Washington state who dug into the tax forms of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest discovered the abortion business has held a 12.5 percent share in Metro Centre, a mall in Peoria, Illinois, since 2006.
Stanek connects the dots in a new column at WorldNetDaily.
"PPGNW is Washington`s largest abortion provider. (It is also currently under investigation for Medicaid fraud.) Metro Centre is owned by Eric Brinker," Stanek writes. "Eric Brinker is the son of Nancy Goodman Brinker, the founder of SGK. Eric also sits on SGK`s board."
She contacted Brinker with questions and he issued one response but would not respond to a follow-up.
"This share represents a minority, non-operating interest in the business which they inherited from one of the original shareholders, a resident of Peoria. I, Eric Brinker, have controlling interest in Metro Centre," Brinker said.
Stanek says the response leaves open more questions about the Planned Parenthood-Komen relationship.
"Why didn`t PPGNW cash in its inheritance? Why didn`t Eric buy? If the share was willed, it was worth something. The real-estate market was thriving in 2006. It appears both partners are OK with this now four-year-old business partnership," she responded.
Brinker also attempted to defend the donations to Planned Parenthood in his contact with Stanek, saying "only "20 of Komen`s 122 U.S. Affiliates fund breast-health services through local Planned Parenthood clinics" and adding the total money given represents "less than one percent of the total granted by affiliates."
Stanek responds: "My question then is why bother? Why play with fire?"
"The fact remains that the son of the founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, who is also a member of the board, owns a business – a mall – together with a Planned Parenthood affiliate," Stanek says. "The irony. Susan G. Komen`s nephew is financially enabling an abortion business."
Stanek says the end result is Komen is "condemning more women to develop breast cancer" because abortion increases the breast cancer risk while carrying a pregnancy to term reduces it.
"On its web site, SGK acknowledges that childbearing protects women from breast cancer, and the more children a mother bears and the younger she begins bearing them the better. SGK also acknowledges breast-feeding protects against breast cancer," she notes. "But abortion blocks all those preventative measures."
"Only last week a new study got lots of press that found breast cancer survivors lower their risk of dying by 42 percent simply by getting pregnant," Stanek writes at WND.
But, with Komen`s help, more women are ending pregnancies in abortions and running the bigger risk of breast cancer.
|April 05, 2010
|Doctors Say Schools May Be Spreading Misinformation About Homosexuality
(CitizenLink) Education on hot-button issue could mean students miss out on opportunity to change.
The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) is sending a letter to school superintendents asking that they not tell students who may experience same-sex attractions to simply accept that they are homosexual.
The group has launched the Web site FactsAboutYouth.com with material for educators and students.
The letter cites studies that "demonstrate most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25."
One such study shows as many as 26 percent of 12-year-olds reported being uncertain of their sexual orientation, yet only 2-3 percent of adults actually identify as homosexual. Therefore, the majority of sexually questioning youth ultimately adopt a heterosexual identity. Many schools, however, tell such questioning students that they should embrace homosexuality and identify themselves as gay.
Tom Benton, president of the ACP, said even children with Gender Identity Disorder, will "typically lose this desire…if the behavior is not reinforced."
"It is clear that when well-intentioned but misinformed school personnel encourage students to ‘come out as gay` and be ‘affirmed,`" he explained, "there is a serious risk of erroneously labeling students who may merely be experiencing transient sexual confusion and/or engaging in sexual experimentation. Premature labeling may then lead some adolescents into harmful homosexual behaviors that they otherwise would not pursue."
Joseph Nicolosi, founder of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, said that many studies show early intervention has an impact.
"Once you discover it, there are things you can do to diminish those attractions and to develop your heterosexual potential," he said.
|April 05, 2010
|Ritual sacrifice of children on the rise in Uganda
(Washington Times) Caroline Aya was playing in front of her house in January when a neighbor put a cloth over her mouth and fled with her.
A couple of days later, the 8-year-old`s body was found a short walk away - with her tongue cut out. Police believe she was offered up as a human sacrifice in a ritual killing, thought to bring wealth or health.
"If it is a sickness you try to treat it, and if they die that is one thing," said Caroline`s father, Balluonzima Christ. "But when you slaughter a person like a goat, that is not easy."
The practice of human sacrifice is on the rise in Uganda, as measured by ritual killings where body parts, often facial features or genitals, are cut off for use in ceremonies. The number of people killed in ritual murders last year rose to a new high of at least 15 children and 14 adults, up from just three cases in 2007, according to police. The informal count is much higher - 154 suspects were arrested last year and 50 taken to court over ritual killings.
Children in particular are common victims, according to a U.S. State Department report released this month. The U.S. spent $500,000 to train 2,000 Ugandan police last year to investigate offences related to human trafficking, including ritual killings.
The problem is bad enough that last year the police established an Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce. Posters on police station walls show a sinister stranger luring two young girls into a car below bold letters that call on parents to "Prevent Child Sacrifice."
Human sacrifices have been recorded throughout history and occur still in many countries, including India, Indonesia, South Africa, Gabon and Tanzania. One traditional healer in Uganda, when asked about the phenomenon, pointed to the story told in the Bible`s book of Genesis, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice a son.
However, the rise in human sacrifices in Uganda appears to come from a desire for wealth and a belief that drugs made from human organs can bring riches, according to task force head Moses Binoga. They may be fueled by a spate of violent Nigerian films that are growing in popularity, and showcase a common story line: A family reaping riches after sacrificing a human.
Click here to read the entire article.
|April 04, 2010
|Girl Scouts challenged to repudiate abortion leader
Recommendation follow controversy over ‘how-to-be-hot’ brochure
(WorldNetDaily) The leader of Family Watch International, which works at the United Nations and around the globe with policymakers on the central role of the family, is challenging the Girl Scouts to abandon links with Planned Parenthood, the nation`s largest abortion industry player.
"I believe the only way to clean up the Girl Scouts is for GSUSA to issue a nationwide policy instructing their councils to cut all ties with Planned Parenthood and to disassociate themselves from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts," said a newsletter statement from Sharon Slater.
Slater was the witness who unleashed a firestorm of controversy when she documented finding Planned Parenthood`s teen-sex-promoting guide "Healthy, Happy and Hot" made available to young girls at the 54th session of U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.
The Girl Scouts denied her report and distanced itself from any involvement in "family planning," despite clear evidence to the contrary.
Slater said she was at the New York City event when organizers ushered all adults – except for one from each of seven sponsoring organizations – out of the room for a "girls only workshop" that the Girl Scouts of the USA reports 30 to 35 teenage girls attended.
Slater told WND when the doors opened at the conclusion of the workshop, she went back in and found the "Hot" brochure among various materials made available on the back table. The event was on the first day of the conference, she said.
Click here to read the entire article.
|April 02, 2010
|Manhattan Declaration: Renewed Effort To Gather Signatures
(Manhattan Declaration) The timing of our movement is providential. We couldn`t have realized when we released the Manhattan Declaration what threats to life and liberty we would soon be facing with the passage of the healthcare bill. At this critical moment for our nation, we give thanks to God that nearly half a million Christians have pledged to stand strong in defense of the most fundamental moral principles of a just and good society. God bless you for making this commitment.
We are reminded by this legislation that we must redouble our efforts. We must equip ourselves to defend winsomely the truth in the public square. The timing of the upgrading of our website is providential as well. We originally released the Manhattan Declaration last fall with a website literally assembled overnight. We realized a couple of months ago that we needed a better facility that could provide more resources to help people to better connect as this movement grows and develops. On the new website you`ll find a wealth of resources that will help you to fight this battle. Please visit www.manhattandeclaration.org.
You`ll find news of the work going on at the grassroots level. For example, a few weeks ago we addressed by phone a group of pastors and lay leaders in Frankfort, Kentucky, who were preparing to present the Manhattan Declaration to their legislature. They did so, and the result was a resolution passed by the Kentucky House endorsing and urging support for the Manhattan Declaration. It was sponsored by 45 members and adopted by voice vote. (www.manhattandeclaration.org/pdfs/KY-bill.pdf)
Just imagine what might happen to our politics and culture if state legislatures across the country were to copy what Kentucky has done. Can you urge your legislators to do so?
With the battles going on in Washington, we must intensify our efforts. The three of us want to do exactly what our supporters in Kentucky did, but at the federal level. When we have one million signatures, we will ask for a meeting with the President. Any document this strong, pledging not to compromise our faith, signed by a million people coming from the three great historic traditions of the Christian faith, will make a huge impact. Please help us accomplish this: Here are some things you can do:
- Circulate the declaration through your church. One church in eastern Washington did this and got all 470 members to sign on. That made local press. www.manhattandeclaration.org/, www.manhattandeclaration.org/sign.aspx
- If you haven`t already done so, ask your pastor to refer to the Manhattan Declaration from the pulpit. Remember, too, there`s a great Bible study that goes with it which you can download free from our website. Here are some resources your pastor may find helpful:
- Start a Bible study in your home.
- Speak in any public forum where you have the opportunity. We are doing this and getting a great reaction. I (Chuck Colson) have asked people to raise their hands if they`ve not heard of the document. Astonishingly, half the people do. Once I explain it, they give it thunderous applause. Despite all the press and internet exposure, many people are still unaware of the Manhattan Declaration. That`s why all of us have to work to spread this message. www.manhattandeclaration.org/pdfs/ManhattanDeclarationStudyGuide.pdf
- Don`t forget letters to the editor of your local newspaper.
- There are 80,000 of you who have put this on Facebook. Let`s do more. Movements today advance by social networking. http://www.facebook.com/ManhattanDeclaration
- Finally, forward this to your friends and ask them to sign on. If each of us gets just one friend to sign, we`ll have nearly one million signatures.
Many of you have written asking what you can personally do. The answer first, is to pray. Second, you can help us with the costs of maintaining the website. To make the significant upgrades, two of our member organizations put up the initial funds. We are not in the fundraising business, but we would welcome support, because we will have continuing costs of maintaining the website and providing resources to fuel this movement. If you choose to help, you can send gifts, which a number of people have indicated they want to do. In due course there will be a button on the website to facilitate this, but for the moment those who wish to help can send a gift to Manhattan Declaration, P.O. Box 1396, Ashburn, Virginia 20146.
It is nothing less than a miracle that we have been able, with virtually no budget, to accumulate in four or five months almost a half million signers. Some organizations that have been working to build their lists for 30 years haven`t done much better than that. God will continue to do the miracles - and we will do our part as well. As the great missionary William Carey said, "Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God."
Thank God He is raising up hundreds of thousands of Christians to draw a line in the sand at this time of ominous challenge to the fundamental principles of justice and truths of our faith - principles and truths which are the very foundation of our nation and of every society that values human dignity and the common good.
God bless you.
Dr. Timothy George
Dr. Robert George
Mr. Charles Colson
|April 02, 2010
|Health Care Bill Restores Abstinence Program Funding
(Christian Post) Under the health reform law, abstinence education programs can receive up to $50 million a year for the next five years. From 2010 through 2014, $250 million dollars will be available for all states for abstinence education under Title V of the Social Security Act.
“We are encouraged that funding will continue so that the important sexual health message of risk avoidance will reach American teens,” said Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association.
Huber noted that the health care bill provides considerably more funding for comprehensive sex education program. She contended that a dual approach to sex education funding can help parents and schools have real choices when it comes to educating students about sex.
Before the health care legislation, President Obama and Congress had pulled the plug on federal funding for abstinence education. Obama had eliminated most funding for abstinence-only education programs in the 2010 budget shortly after taking office. He moved most of the money into comprehensive programs that include discussions of birth control.
Then in June, Congress allowed the $50 million in abstinence-only funding to expire.
Critics of abstinence-only education argue that studies have shown the program does not work and students that take the course are just as likely to engage in sexual activity as those enrolled in comprehensive sex programs.
But supporters of abstinence programs also point to studies that draw the opposite conclusion.
The most recent and most prominent study is the one conducted by University of Pennsylvania professor John Jemmott III that found abstinence-only education to be more effective than any other form of sex education.
Only about one-third of sixth- and seventh-grade students who completed the abstinence-only program had sex within the next two years, the researchers found. By comparison, nearly half of the students who took other sex education classes, including those that incorporated information about abstinence and contraception, became sexually active within the same period.
The research was federally funded and published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicines, published by the American Medical Association in its February 2010 issue. It involved 662 African American students from four public middle schools that serve low-income communities in a city in Northeastern United States. The study followed the students two years after they took one of five classes.
Students were randomly selected by a computer to either take an 8-hour abstinence-only intervention, 8-hour safer sex-only intervention, 8-hour comprehensive intervention, a 12-hour comprehensive intervention, or an 8-hour health promotion control intervention.
Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association, responded to the study’s findings by saying, “Science has finally caught up with logic and what parents have known for centuries,” that abstinence is an effective way to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
"It turns out that when it comes to educating their children on matters of sex, Mom and Dad really do know best,” Stevens said.
Huber hopes that abstinence-only programs will eventually receive equal funding to other sex education approaches, according to CNN.
“In facing the complex problem of teen sex, we must not limit solutions, we must support what works and continue to find even more effective ways of reaching our youth,” Huber said, in a statement.
|April 01, 2010
|San Diego Schools No Longer Require Parental Consent for Teen Abortions
(LifeNews.com) San Diego school officials have upset pro-life advocates by adopting a new policy making it so teenagers no longer need parental consent for a host of activities, including abortion. The new policy makes it so teens can go on their own for confidential medical appointments without parental involvement.
The San Diego Unified Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to revise the policy without any opposition or debate.
Both pro-life and pro-abortion advocates spoke out about the changes in interviews with 10 News.
Leslie Brunolli said she opposed the change because she had an abortion she now adamantly regrets and doesn`t want young women to make the same mistake.
"I wanted to finish college. I wanted out of the situation and I had no idea that I would have any ramifications at all, but I did," she said of the abortion that took away 20 years of her life with regret and heartache until she sought help.
"To be able to have them taken out of school to have a medical procedure, I can`t believe it," she said. "It makes me angry."
But Vince Hall of Planned Parenthood told the television station he supports the change.
"Every day that the old policy was in effect, every day that the old policy guided people who work in the schools was a day that teens were really being put in danger," he claimed.
Marge Kleinsmith, who oversees sex education for the school district, said the change was needed to conform with state law.
"Some school nurses and staff have been allowing students to be released for these kinds of appointments -- could be for suicide counseling, could be for an STD test, could be for pregnancy, could be for a lot of things - - because they knew state law said they could," Kleinsmith said. "Others have been strict about not letting students do this. This gives us much-needed clarity."
Although San Diego is changing its policy, the Tribune newspaper said Vista Unified school board voted in 2009 to stand by its practice of requiring parental involvement beforehand.
ACTION: Contact the board at http://old.sandi.net/board/boe_members.htm
|April 01, 2010
|Groups Blast Obama`s Appointment of Gay Activist
(Christian Post) Chai Feldblum, a lesbian Georgetown University Law Center professor, was appointed over the weekend as commissioner on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"She is way beyond what most Americans would consider mainstream," said Shari Rendall, director of Legislation and Public Policy at Concerned Women for America, in a statement Tuesday.
Feldblum, who was nominated by Obama in September, is the primary author of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would make it illegal for employers to make decisions on hiring, firing, promoting or paying an employee based on sexual orientation.
Religious employers have argued that they themselves would be discriminated against under ENDA.
Gay rights groups praised the appointment of Feldblum. Opponents, meanwhile, maintain that the openly lesbian professor "would not be impartial in her decision-making process."
"From her own account, Feldblum would have a difficult time ever deciding that religious liberties should trump homosexual rights," said Rendall.
Feldblum has acknowledged the conflict that exists between "laws intended to protect the liberty of LGBT people ... and the religious beliefs of some individuals whose conduct is regulated by such laws."
But in such conflicts, she said society should side with the liberty of LGBT people over the liberty of the religious.
She was willing to make a very limited exception to ENDA, specifically for "enterprises that are engaged in by ... religious belief communities that are specifically designed to inculcate values in the next generation."
"We want to change the American workforce and revolutionize social norms," she said earlier. "Our current public policies undermine the moral and political unit of same-sex couples and families and that`s a moral wrong that needs to be rectified."
Feldblum, who has been fighting for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) rights for the last 20 years and supports polyamory, believes it is only a matter of time before America enters an "era of full LGBT liberty."
Other groups that have publicly denounced the appointment of Feldblum include the Traditional Values Coalition and Family Research Council.
Obama made 15 appointments to his administration over the weekend when Congress began its Easter recess, bypassing the normal confirmation process. Recess appointees serve through the end of the current Congress unless they receive Senate confirmation.
|April 01, 2010
|Report: Planned Parenthood Endangering Women with Remote Abortions
(LifeSiteNews) A new report by the pro-life group Operation Rescue (OR) tackles the increasingly popular practice of “telemed” chemical abortions, which OR charges is putting women at “unacceptable” risk, as well as pushing up insurance costs due to the exorbitant rate that Planned Parenthood typically charges insurance companies for the procedure.
A telemed abortion is abortion via a teleconferencing service. Mothers seeking an abortion go to a clinic that has no physician on staff, and they then briefly visit with an off-site abortionist that appears on a computer monitor and explains the medical abortion procedure to them. Afterwards, the abortion drug RU486, also known as Mifepristone, is prescribed.
According to Operation Rescue, “The patient is never physically examined by the medical doctor prescribing the drugs – or any other, for that matter – and never sees the abortionist again.”
“Telemed” abortions like these are quickly becoming a cornerstone of Planned Parenthood’s abortion business. OR says that according to a receptionist with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, “medical abortions are offered in 16 clinics throughout Iowa, but only four of the clinics actually have doctors. At the other twelve, smaller clinics, telemed abortions have become routine.”
The problem of a lack of clear medical oversight in these abortions is emphasized by the fact that Mifeprisone, the main medical component of such abortions, has been linked to 8 deaths, as well as 1,100 serious complications, in the U.S. alone. According to OR, “medical abortions carry a 7-20 percent failure rate,” in which cases women would need to have the abortion completed surgically.
While medical abortions are often billed as a “hassle-free” alternative to surgical abortions, the risks that such abortions present were dramatically highlighted for the world recently by the pair of pro-abortion women who announced their plan to “Twitter” their medical abortions – that is, to issue regular electronic updates about the progress of the procedure. The first woman to do so expressed a desire to “demystify” the procedure, and the second said she wished to imitate the first.
In one case, however, instead of the few hours of bleeding that the mother expected, the abortion dragged out of a space of two weeks, during which she complained of "sharp" pain, cramping, bleeding, nausea, and headaches – discomfort that she evidently attempted to quell by popping the narcotic Vicodin, with little success.
In the other, the woman known only as "Nextthurs,” began tweeting her abortion on February 28. However, after three posts complaining about "bleeding like a stuffed [sic] pig all day," the tweets mysteriously ended.
In fact, Dr. Etienne-Emile Baulieu, the inventor of the medical abortion drug, has in the past highlighted the serious nature of using it: "It`s insulting to women to say that abortion now will be as easy as taking aspirins. It is always difficult, psychologically and physically, sometimes tragic."
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said, in releasing the new report on telemed abortions, that "The telemed abortion presents risks to women`s lives and health that are completely unacceptable."
“The lack of access to a licensed physician throughout this risky and painful abortion process is shocking, and likely illegal. Money obviously means more to Planned Parenthood than the lives and safety of women."
Operation Rescue also revealed in its report that Planned Parenthood in Iowa charges insurance companies a whopping $1,000 for this doctor-less medical abortion - the highest in the nation by far - even though their overhead costs are much less than other clinics that have a licensed physician on site. Women who pay cash for the same procedure are charged $500, half the amount insurance companies must pay.
OR pointed out that this overbilling effectively drives up the cost of health insurance for everyone.
"Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is making a killing on medical abortions," said Newman. "Planned Parenthood is gouging insurance companies twice the price of their cash abortions. That`s how they can afford to keep their smaller clinics running.
"And if taxpayers are forced to fund these abortions, there`s no telling how much they will charge, because government funding is a blank check."
|April 01, 2010
|PepsiCo accused of undermining religion to push ‘gay’ agenda
(WorldNetDaily) PepsiCo reportedly donated over $75 million to various causes last year, but now one group is charging that the soft-drink giant has been funding the cause of undermining biblical faith.
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, known as PFOX, a national non-profit group that advocates for former homosexuals, is demanding the company reveal its standards for charitable giving after the group discovered a Pepsi-supported organization urging protests against religious gatherings that contend God can help people leave the homosexual lifestyle.
PFOX alleges that PepsiCo is the leading corporate sponsor of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc., whose recent publication, a Faith Field Guide, urges PFLAG members to protest against religious conferences that feature formerly homosexual speakers.
The guidebook labels the "ex-gay" conferences as "anti-gay," and prompts the protests "to remind people that there is more than one faith message."
PFOX questions, however, why a soft-drink company that has declared itself to be "committed to diversity and inclusion without imposition of personal judgment" would exclusively back one side of a theological debate.
"Why does PepsiCo fund organizations like PFLAG, which issue religious publications urging readers to undermine other religions with which PFLAG disagrees?" asked Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX, in a statement. "Is this the best use of PepsiCo funding?"
As WND has reported, PepsiCo, – which produces Pepsi soft drinks, Gatorade, Frito-Lay snacks, Quaker oats and other foods – regularly donates to homosexual groups, sponsored a float in 35th annual Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade in New York and boasts 160,000 employees represented by its lesbian, "gay", bisexual and transgender resource group.
The company`s website even boasts its perfect rating on the 2009 Corporate Equality Index, a scale created by the homosexual advocacy giant Human Rights Campaign, measuring companies with policies beneficial toward homosexuals.
But when one of the world`s largest food distributors, with 2009 retail revenues hitting $108 billion, starts using its financial muscle to undermine religion, PFOX contends, PepsiCo`s homosexual advocacy has gone too far.
The PFLAG Faith Field Guide specifically states, "When something happens in your community that is anti-LGBT and has a faith angle, consider organizing a response. A perfect example of this is Love Won Out. Love Won Out (LWO) is a traveling conference run by the anti-gay group Focus on the Family.
"Often people in the community will feel intimidated or hurt by just the presence and negative press that conferences like LWO bring," the guide continues. "Reminding them that there are supportive people in the community who are willing to listen is important for counteracting the message of change promoted by LWO."
The guide then goes on to describe how to plan press releases and protests surrounding the appearance of a formerly homosexual speaker.
"Why does PepsiCo continue to fund organizations which hate the ex-gay community?" asked Griggs. "PepsiCo`s actions adversely affect its public image, goodwill and stock value."
PFOX is working with MoxyVote.com to enable PepsiCo shareholders to voice their protest and demand accountability from the company.
"The PepsiCo Shareholder Proposal No. 4," Griggs explains, "asks PepsiCo to divulge its standards for funding and account for how the Company`s charitable contributions are actually used, a reasonable request."
|April 01, 2010
|College Students Want `Our Lord` Phrase Off Diplomas
(FOXNews.com) A group of students at Trinity University in Texas wants the Christian-rooted school to remove the words "Our Lord" from their diplomas, the Houston Chronicle reported.
"A diploma is a very personal item, and people want to proudly display it in their offices and homes,” Sidra Qureshi, president of Trinity Diversity Connection, told the Chronicle. “By having the phrase ‘In the Year of Our Lord,` it is directly referencing Jesus Christ, and not everyone believes in Jesus Christ."
Qureshi, a Muslim student at the school, is leading the campaign to remove the words. The Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the matter during a meeting next month.
The school`s student government association and a commencement committee already has thrown their support behind the proposal. But not everyone supports changing the diplomas.
"Any cultural reference, even if it is religious, our first instinct should not be to remove it, but to accept it and tolerate it," said Brendan McNamara, president of the College Republicans. "Once you remove that phrase, where do you draw the line?"
The school was founded by Presbyterians in 1869 and has been governed by an independent board of trustees since 1969.
|April 01, 2010
|More Than Half of Americans Disapprove of New Health Care Law, Says CNN Poll
(CNSNews) A new CNN poll shows that a majority of Americans, 56 percent, disapprove of the new health care law while 42 percent approve.
Also, 53 percent of those polled were either “displeased” or “angry” at the passage of the bill, while only 45 percent were “enthusiastic” or “pleased.”
Despite strong majorities saying they disapprove of the bill and are either ‘angry’ or ‘displeased,’ there was only a 3 percentage point gap among Americans when it came to the issue of repealing the law.
CNN asked, “Thinking about the health care bill that Congress passed this week, which of the following statements best describes your view of what Congress should do in the future?” The poll showed the following: 50 percent said Congress should leave the bill as is or make additional changes to increase government involvement in the nation’s health care system.
On the other side, 47 percent said Congress should repeal most of the major provisions in the bill and replace it with a completely different set of proposals.
Other findings showed that when asked if they and their families would be “better off,” “worse off,” or “about the same” because of the new health care law, 39 percent said “worse off” – 37 percent “about the same” and 22 percent “better off.”
Further, 47 percent think the health care law is a major victory for President Barack Obama while 33 percent of Americans said it was a positive accomplishment -- 20 percent see it as a minor accomplishment.
The poll was conducted by telephone of 1,009 adult Americans, 935 of those registered to vote, between March 25- 28, and had a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points.
|April 01, 2010
| Gingrich taps California pastor to head Renewing American Leadership
(Christian Examiner) California pastor Jim Garlow—a champion of Proposition 8 (Calif. marriage admendment) and who has become a national spokesman in support of biblical values—has been tapped by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to chair his non-partisan, non-profit dedicated to Judeo-Christian values.
The appointment will augment work Garlow has already been doing on the national scene as founder of the Pastor’s Rapid Response Team and as lead pastor at Skyline Church, the mega-church he’s led for 14 years in San Diego County.
Garlow said his appointment should not be construed as an eventual exit strategy for his church work. Instead, he has resigned from numerous non-church commitments and boards, including several universities.
“I don’t feel called to leave,” he said after the March 16 announcement. “I feel quite called for the pastorate to be the platform for this.”
Garlow said Gingrich made the offer in January after the pair had crossed paths in Washington D.C. on several different occasions late last year while promoting several pro-family issues. He consulted about 50 people and spent eight weeks praying and contemplating the offer before accepting.
“I’m concerned how it will impact my family and my church,” he said. “I’m quite protective of them both because I’m deeply in love with both. But the neat thing about this is they are allowing me to construct what is feasible within the framework of my time. My first priority is my family and secondly is my church.”
With his new role, Garlow’s duties will entail conducting media interviews, penning opinion pieces and books, securing speaking engagements, and activating and enlisting pastors and Christian leaders to understand the biblical components of the nation’s founding and its place in government.
“I want the biblical truth that is coming via Renewing American Leadership to be a natural outflow of biblical proclamation from the pulpit,” Garlow said.
In many ways, his new assignment closely parallels work he has already been doing while shepherding Skyline. His passion for biblical marriage helped propel San Diego pastors to get behind Proposition 8, a movement that quickly spread to the state’s 57 other counties. With its solid success at the ballot box, other states began seeking out Garlow for ideas on how to make similar stands in their own states.
Through his Pastors Rapid Response Team, 30 webinars were hosted in numerous states.
“We did the first seven or eight here in California and thought we were done after Prop. 8,” he said.
Other states to have benefited from the webinars include Arizona, Florida, Washington, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York and Maine.
To read more, click here.
|April 01, 2010
|City Drops Bid to Shut Down Home Bible Study, But Threat to Others Remains
(Pacific Justice Institute) A city in the greater Los Angeles area that sparked national outrage for its attempts to shut down a home Bible study has conceded defeat while hinting that it might try to shutter similar groups.
The City of Rancho Cucamonga had sent a letter to a small home Bible study, demanding that it stop meeting unless it secured a costly and potentially unobtainable permit that is not required of comparable non-religious gatherings in homes. After receiving a letter from Pacific Justice Institute - and negative publicity nationwide - the City has reversed course and dropped its enforcement action. The Mayor and other City officials even visited the Friday night Bible study.
However, while the City has dropped its enforcement action against the Bible study group, the City has indicated that it did so only because it determined that the Friday night group did not appear to be a "church." In a letter to Pacific Justice Institute last week, an attorney for the City defended the City`s requirement that all churches in residential zones are illegal unless they obtain a costly permit. Thus, small home-based religious groups that consider themselves churches or meet on Sunday mornings instead of weeknights could still face severe enforcement action by the City at any time. And to date, city officials have taken no action to change this policy.
Attorney Michael Peffer, who heads PJI`s Southern California office and represents the Bible study group, commented, "We are very pleased that the City of Rancho Cucamonga saw the light and dropped their attempts to shut down this Friday night Bible study. At the same time, we are concerned that the City appears determined to use the same heavy-handed tactics against house churches. We urge any church or Bible study group threatened by Rancho Cucamonga or any other local government to contact PJI immediately."
|April 01, 2010
|Gentlemen on Campus: University of Virginia Holds a Contest
(Family Security Matters) Much of our attention on college campuses is focused on women. We have women`s studies departments, women`s centers, and administrative positions created just for women. These posts are filled with academic feminists, who seek to empower women and transform society. To many of these women, what is one of the biggest problems in society that needs to be transformed? Men.
Since the emergence of the sexual liberation movement in the 1970s, women have been told self-sufficiency and independence should be a woman`s top goals. Meanwhile, men receive the message that chivalrous acts are demeaning toward women. Young men are too often the target of women`s groups, who cast men as oppressors and women as the victims. Contrary to what is conveyed through many feminist events on campus, such as "The Vagina Monologues," a group of honorable young men still exists on campus. One women`s organization, the Network of enlightened Women (NeW), is taking a stand: A stand against cultural norms on college campus by honoring gentlemen.
Rather than degrading gentlemen and gentlemanly acts on campus, the members of this national organization for conservative college women, which was founded at the University of Virginia in 2004, are searching for the elusive campus gentlemen. They are seeking out those men who treat women with dignity and respect without any expectation of recognition in return. These men are competing for the title of gentlemen. The NCAA isn`t the only place for college men to compete in March.
The idea started at Arizona State University, where conversation among members of the ASU chapter of NeW evolved from a candid discussion of the question, "Are gentlemen an endangered species?" to a more serious awareness of the declining quality of college relationships. Respect between the sexes had deteriorated, which was obvious in the way men and women treated each other. NeW women began looking for a way to honor good men who rebelled against the current campus culture. The Annual Gentlemen`s Showcase was born: an event recognizing the 10 men on campus receiving the most nominations from peers for their gentlemanly acts.
Hosting the Second Annual Gentlemen`s Showcase earlier this March, the NeW women at Arizona State received more than 160 nominations for 95 different men. Although some nominations were for simple acts, such as opening a door, the majority spoke about the gentleman`s overall character and how his fundamental respect for women was revealed through courteous acts. One nomination read:
"To me, a gentleman is someone who is honest, patient, respectful, and genuinely cares about others. Ted is all of these and so much more. There is not just one single act that makes him stand out as a gentleman. You can find these characteristics in his actions every day. He will go out of his way to help people and take care of those around him. He is one of the most gentlemanly guys I know."
The concept has gone national. Throughout March, the national organization of NeW is hosting an online contest run through Facebook, where students nominate men for gentlemanly acts by posting a video about the college man. The winner will be awarded a steak dinner for two.
The NeW Chapter at the University of Virginia is running its own version of the contest, "March Madness: Gentlemen`s Edition." Tapping into the competitive nature of young men, the competition is set up like the NCAA bracket with men facing off against each other based on their gentlemanly acts. Instead of cheering for Ohio State, Purdue, or Syracuse, students vote for descriptions of the nominated gentlemen in head-to-head match-ups such as, "holds doors open and allows women to go first," "offer[s] his seat on the bus," "always making sure he is on the outside of the sidewalk when walking with a woman," "helps fellow team members with their work in addition to his own, without complaint," "sent me flowers with a hand-written note after we`d had a difference of opinion on a political issue," and "is highly aware of the needs and feelings of others."
There are still gentlemen on college campuses. And with a little encouragement, there will be more. Instead of trying to change men on campus, we should seek to bring out the best in them. And this lesson applies to women as well. The pop culture battles between the sexes remain. The success of this event, however, gives me hope that we are coming to terms with our sex differences, which will lead to better relations between the sexes in the future.
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