World News Report, Week #36, 2014

Written by Editor in Chief on . Posted in World

WORLD News Service – September 19 2014

                                                                                                                                   



Single Americans Are Rapidly Multiplying



Loving the Infertile on Mother’s Day



California Colleges Remove Christian Ministry from 19 Campuses



Researchers Rekindle Vaccine-Autism Debate:  New study claims to show a link between widespread use of fetal cell vaccines and an upsurge in autism

 

Boko Haram Used Schoolgirl as Suicide Bomber:  Congressional hearing discusses kidnapped girls’ fate, other international religious freedom concerns

 

Christian Rapper Lecrae Finally Gets Mainstream Acceptance



Eagle Shot:  Families of longtime Boy Scouts face tough decisions about whether to go or stay



Goal Keeper:  Ryan Hollingshead put pro soccer on hold to pursue his dream of helping his brother plant a church







NATIONAL BRIEFS



INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS



                                                                                                                                   



Single Americans Are Rapidly Multiplying

 

By Kiley Crossland



(WNS)--Singles now make up the majority of the adult U.S. population, according to research reported by Bloomberg. 



Roughly 125 million Americans, or 50.2 percent ages 16 years or older, are single, up from 37.4 percent in 1976, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 



Bloomberg credited Edward Yardeni, a Wall Street economist and market strategist, with identifying the shift by using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August job-market data. In a private report to his clients, entitled “Selfies,” Yardeni said the “remarkable” trend has “implications for our economy, society, and politics.” 



For example, he noted that singles are more likely to rent than buy. Less marriage also means fewer children, which shifts spending habits. He also said more single-person households exaggerate income inequality. “While they have less household earnings than married people, they also have fewer expenses, especially if there are no children in their households,” Yardeni wrote.



Although the number of divorced, separated, or widowed singles has increased since the 1970s, the larger increase, from 22.1 percent to more than 30 percent, came from a growing number of singles who never marry, Yardeni found. Some argue this increase is the result of more couples deciding to cohabitate instead of marry. 



Other research confirms the trend and its economic implications. According to U.S. Census data, married-couple households are no longer the norm, households are getting smaller, and more people are living alone, especially men. The percentage of U.S. households with married couples dropped more than 20 percent from 1970 to 2012, from 70.6 to 48.7 percent, according to a census report released in August. While the percentage of households with married couples and no children remained virtually the same, the drastic drop came in married households with children under 18. 



The increased flexibility of singles has economic benefits, but more singles can also mean decreasing economic stability, Allison Schrager wrote in an article for Businessweek. With fewer fixed expenses, family ties, mortgages to pay, and kids to put through college, singles are more likely to move for a job or start an entrepreneurial venture. But they also are less stable for the future economy. A lost job, injury, or illness is a major hit for a single-person household. And no children means no new households, no new taxpayers, and a dearth of future caretakers for the current generation when they age. 



A growing number of singles also means people are leaving the suburbs in favor of cities.  “Singles make up more than half of the population in more than 46 of the 51 largest U.S. metros,” Richard Florida wrote in an article for The Atlantic’s CityLab. “If families prefer the suburbs for schools and safety, singles prefer denser urban neighborhoods with more to do and greater opportunities to meet and connect with singles.”





Loving the Infertile on Mother’s Day



(WNS)--“Mother’s Day is the hardest Sunday of the year. It is worse than Christmas,” said Lauren Casper, a 30-year-old blogger and speaker who lives in Lexington, Va.



Casper talked about the stomach punches of sitting in church surrounded by people she loved who didn’t seem to understand the pain induced by her empty womb. Until they adopted their son in 2011 and daughter in 2012, she and her husband John had only two children in heaven to show for their years of infertility: “The people in my family and my circle of friends loved and wanted to support me, but it was really hard because they didn’t understand. ‘Oh, you are young and you have plenty of time,’ they would say.”



She recommends that churches:



Address pain publicly: “During Mother’s Day and the time of prayer or honoring, they could address the women who aren’t moms but want to be.”



Don’t say, You’ll have more children: “There seems to be this idea that kids are replaceable. One of the bigger misconceptions is the idea that they can be replaced or the loss can be erased by the addition of a new life. It’s just not reality.”



Treat her to a feminine outing: After going through months of dehumanizing fertility tests or losing a baby, women often feel their femininity stripped away. Drop off a gift card so she can dress up and go out with her husband, or invite her for a girls’ night out.



Hope in God: Out of compassion, a relative assured Casper she’d get pregnant again, but she never did. Holding out false hope makes the monthly reminder of nonpregnancy even more crushing. Casper says, “The hope is not in the eventual child. Hope is in God and His sovereignty. … The secret is Christ in me not me in a different set of circumstances. The circumstances may or may not change.”



Nate Pyle, lead pastor of Christ’s Community Church in Fishers, Ind., experienced years of infertility with his wife Sarah. He says churches need to learn how to care for hurting couples, and suggests:



Focus on family, not biological family: “There is this emphasis in the church on family—and absolutely family is important,” but not just biological family. “Christians do a great job with adoption, but I think sometimes it is seen as a secondary or a lesser option.”



Turn to Scripture: “The Bible has so many examples of couples who struggled with infertility.” Encourage those in pain with this truth. Turn them to the Bible and pray consistently for their faith and the desires of their heart.



Mark the baby’s life: Extend friendship to hurting mothers by marking this child’s life with a token—a meal, houseplant, or bouquet of flowers. A grieving mother will be comforted that you thought her child’s life significant enough to be remembered.

Help them grieve: Those who suffer the loss of a child would rather you ask how they are months after the miscarriage than feel you have forgotten. These conversations will apply another layer of healing.





California Colleges Remove Christian Ministry from 19 Campuses

 

By Leigh Jones



(WNS)--Four years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a California university could force Christian groups to accept non-Christian leaders, all of the state’s public universities have adopted the policy, pushing one of the nation’s largest Christian groups off 19 campuses.



Leaders with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship announced this month that all 23 of its affiliated chapters in the California State University System would move off-campus this fall, operating as unofficial student groups.



The change, although not unexpected, is forcing the group to rethink its approach to ministry. New student outreach efforts will include mobile banner stands, interactive displays, social media, and other techniques that aren’t dependent on access to official university channels.



“Our campus-access challenges give this generation of students an opportunity to reinvent campus ministry,” said Greg Jao, InterVarsity’s national field director. “Even as we use new tools and techniques, we remind students that effective ministry is ultimately relational. It’s about students inviting other students to follow Jesus.”



California’s challenge to Christian student groups started with the Christian Legal Society (CLS) at the University of California’s Hastings Law School. Administrators there instituted an “all-comers” policy that required all groups to be open to all students, regardless of beliefs. CLS and other Christian groups, including InterVarsity, ask student leaders to affirm a statement of faith that defines their shared Christian belief.



In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the policy in a narrow ruling that pertained only to Hastings. Although the California university system has rolled out the policy at all its campuses, conservative legal experts say they’re taking the interpretation too far. At Hastings, the high court ruled a true all-comers policy did not violate students’ Constitutional rights because it was universally applied. But on other campuses, administrators have provided exceptions for gender-based groups like fraternities and sororities, raising questions about whether the policy is as neutral as it claims to be.



The California campuses are not the first from which InterVarsity has had to withdraw in an official capacity. In 2011, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., also adopted an all-comers policy. Rather than sign an agreement pledging to consider non-Christians for leadership positions, InterVarsity’s Graduate Christian Fellowship and about a dozen other Christian groups moved off campus. Other private colleges have followed Vanderbilt’s lead, though not at the pace some campus Christian ministries feared. In May, InterVarsity leaders at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, had to step down because they would not sign a similar policy requiring them to allow lesbian, gay, and other non-heterosexual students to be leaders.



And while Vanderbilt’s policy made ministry more difficult, Christian groups there haven’t disappeared. In a message to InterVarsity donors, Jao said the end of acceptance for Christians on college campuses creates an opportunity.



“Our position will cost us,” he said. “But I think the campus-access challenge gives students an opportunity to say, some might be afraid to pay the price, but not this generation of world changers. … Throughout the country, we’ve found that our staff and student leaders respond to derecognition with greater creativity, boldness, and risk-taking. And, perhaps more importantly, they’ve deepened their convictions as disciples, evangelists, and leaders.”





Researchers Rekindle Vaccine-Autism Debate

 

New study claims to show a link between widespread use of fetal cell vaccines and an upsurge in autism



By Daniel James Devine



(WNS)--The mysterious childhood developmental disorder known as autism affects hundreds of thousands of U.S. kids, causing social and communication disabilities ranging from mild to severe. It has no available cure, and causes for the condition remain unknown. Multiple studies in recent years seem to have refuted the notion that vaccines might cause autism, but one new study has set out to challenge the consensus.



Published in the online Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology this month, the study found a correlation between the upsurge in cases of autism and the widespread use of vaccines made with fetal tissue cell lines. It is the first study to examine the link between autism and fetal cell vaccines, according to the primary author, Theresa Deisher, a stem cell scientist and the founder of Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute in Seattle.



“We firmly feel that the data is compelling enough that it justifies very immediate and stringent safety studies and analysis,” Deisher told me. “If this were a pesticide, it would already have been banned.”



Deisher and other researchers at Sound Choice used public data to plot the sharp rise of autism prevalence in several countries. The year in which autism rates began to surge upwards in each country is what they referred to as the “change point.”



They found that autism change points in the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Australia corresponded with the introduction or increased use of fetal cell vaccines. For example, in the United States, Deisher’s team found that change points marking increased autism diagnoses occurred around 1981, 1988, and 1996. They believe those dates correspond to the introduction of Meruvax II (for rubella) and MMR II (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines in 1979, the addition of a second MMR II dose in the late 1980s, and the introduction of the Varivax vaccine (for chickenpox) in 1995. They found similar correlations between autism change points and fetal cell vaccines used in the other countries.



The researchers aren’t certain how the fetal cell vaccines might have caused cases of autism, but Deisher said one of two possible mechanisms might be responsible. Fetal cell vaccines contain fragments of human DNA and retroviruses, so one mechanism might be an autoimmune response caused by the foreign DNA.



The second possible mechanism is the process of gene insertion. Cells might accidentally take up the DNA fragments and incorporate them into their own genome, Deisher said. That wouldn’t be expected of many other vaccines that are made using animal, not human cell lines, because DNA is decorated with chemical groups “like the icing on a cake,” Deisher said, and the icing is different for each species: “DNA from a chicken cell will be decorated like DNA from a chicken. And a human gene would never take it up.”



Many vaccines are developed using cell cultures taken from chicken eggs. But the vaccines cited in Deisher’s study were developed with widely-used cell lines taken from aborted fetuses decades ago. Since these cells are self-perpetuating, they don’t involve continued abortions in order to be used in vaccines or other research, but they raise questions among some Christians about moral complicity with evil.



Although Deisher thinks some concerns about the health effects of vaccine ingredients are well-founded, she said she’s not “anti-vaccine.” According to Sound Coice’s website, one of the organization’s goals is to raise consumer awareness about “the widespread use of electively aborted fetal material in drug discovery, development and commercialization.”



WORLD reached out to other autism research groups for comment on the new study, without response.



Although some parents of children with autism have for years worried that childhood vaccines are to blame for their children’s developmental problems, most experts are likely to be skeptical of new claims involving a vaccine-autism link: Multiple studies have searched for an association between vaccines and autism and failed to find one. One well-known study in 1998 claimed a link between measles vaccines and autism, but the British journal The Lancet retracted the paper in 2010, saying the lead author had falsified his data.



According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 children in the United States is affected by autism spectrum disorder, a range of autistic symptoms that varies in severity. The agency says parental age and genetic predisposition appear to be risk factors.

Autism affects boys much more often than girls, and the prevalence of the disorder continues to increase sharply (in 2000 only 1 in 150 children were thought to be affected).



Some people have blamed the increased prevalence on expanded awareness and diagnosis of the problem. Deisher and her colleagues said they did not find any correlation between diagnostic criteria and increased autism in their study. Because the definition of ASD has broadened over the years, they said their study focused only on autistic disorder, the most severe form of ASD.





Boko Haram Used Schoolgirl as Suicide Bomber

 

Congressional hearing discusses kidnapped girls’ fate, other international religious freedom concerns



By Angela Lu



(WNS)--Terrorist group Boko Haram used at least one of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls as a suicide bomber, a Nigerian human rights lawyer confirmed Thursday at a congressional hearing on international religious freedom.



After a monthlong investigation, Emmanuel Ogebe has “positively identified one of the remains recovered from the site of a school bombing as that of an abducted Chibok schoolgirl,” he wrote in a testimony submitted to the House Subcommittee on National Security. Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls after raiding their school in April. A month later, it claimed all the girls had converted to Islam. Many speculated the terrorist group turned the girls into bombers after a string of suicide bombings by young women in northern Nigeria.



Testimony at the hearing tied U.S. national security concerns to the breakdown of international religious freedom and criticized the State Department’s weak handling of the issue. Subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, noted he was “hard-pressed to name any countries where United States engagement on international religious freedom has made a measurable impact to lessen the persecution of religious minorities.”



Ogebe urged the State Department to take seriously the threats of Boko Haram and to call religion-fueled terrorism what it is. “There is nothing that ISIS has done in Iraq in the past two months that [Boko Haram has] not done in northern Nigeria in the last three years,” he said, deriding the State Department for not designating Boko Haram as a “foreign terrorist organization” until last year. The State Department had earlier denied that Boko Haram killed mainly Christians in Nigeria for religious reasons.



In the meantime, things have worsened for Nigerian Christians: Last week one Catholic diocese said Boko Haram had killed 2,500 of its members. Ogebe also criticized the State Department for denying the group has attempted to target Americans. He mentioned American lawyer Vernice Guthrie, who WORLD News Group reportedwas in the UN building Boko Haram attacked with a suicide bomb in 2011.



Even with the growing threat of Islamist groups, the State Department still isn’t prioritizing  international religious freedom, said Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University. He pointed to the nearly yearlong vacancy of the position of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, which the Obama administration only recently nominated Rabbi David Saperstein to fill. Even with Saperstien in place, Farr questioned how many resources the State Department will provide him. The position does not report directly to the secretary of state, unlike others such as the ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues.



“You can be sure that this marginalization of the ambassador in U.S. policy is not lost on American diplomats, nor is it lost on foreign governments and those who persecute on the basis of religion,” he said.



The State Department has also neglected to consistently update its report of designated Countries of Particular Concern. During President Barack Obama’s tenure, the list has only been updated twice, once in 2011 and again last July. Karina Lantos Swett, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom stressed the importance of keeping up with the designations as situations change and actually implementing sanctions on the listed countries. She recommended creating a religious freedom advisor in the National Security Council, noting “if you overlay the list of Countries of Particular Concern with the list of countries of particular national security threat to the United States, it’s shocking how closely those two lists mesh.”



In a separate panel, the State Department’s Sarah Sewall, the undersecretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, seemed unfamiliar with the number of Christians killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria and deflected the question of whether Christianity was the most persecuted religion in the world, stating she didn’t have the numbers. Instead, she focused on the work the department has done with a regional coalition to fight Boko Haram.



To stop terrorist threats, the United States needs to toughen up against regions that stifle religious freedom, Swett said: “When you have societies that repress, oppress, persecute on the basis of sectarianism and religion, you create the seedbed for extremism, for violence, for instability, and, ultimately, for the export of terrorism.”



Christian Rapper Lecrae Finally Gets Mainstream Acceptance

 

By Angela Lu



(WNS)--It’s taken a decade, but this week proved definitively that Christian rapper Lecrae Moore cannot be ignored. His album Anomaly hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts, selling 88,000 copies in its first week, and on Thursday night he performed snippets of his new songs with The Roots on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.



Moore is no stranger to breaking down barriers between the sacred and the secular, as he collaborates with top hip-hop artists while keeping his faith central in his music. After popping onto mainstream hip-hop’s radar in 2011 at the BET Hip Hop Award’s freestyle cypher, he’s appeared on industry staples like 106 & Park, MTV, and XXL Magazine. But most aren’t completely sure what to make of him—a rapper who speaks hip-hop, but from a distinctly reformed Christian worldview.



And that feeling of being different, a deviation from the norm, is the narrative that spans Moore’s latest album, Anomaly. From the opening song, “Outsiders,” the rapper musically and lyrically proves his point–with melodic strings and vocals dropping off to a beat and Moore’s quick rapping about finding freedom in not fitting in. He’s now found others who are “all unashamed and all unafraid to live out what they supposed to be.” Tracks range from social commentary to love songs to his wife, with “Runners” stressing the importances of fidelity and staying away from temptation. In “Nuthin,” Moore expresses his disappointment in hip-hop music focusing on sex and drugs while lacking substance: “I know these people greater than the songs they created.”



Moore turns to more conventional Christian radio fare with “Messengers,” which features Christian pop duo For King and Country, and calls on Christians to reach out to a broken world. The most lyrically powerful song, “Good, Bad, Ugly,” steps into Moore’s personal past of sexual abuse as a child, his history of promiscuity, and his regrets pressuring his girlfriend to get an abortion. The song ends with a declaration of the freedom he’s found in Christ, “I’m out the prison, I know that / I got the power to say no to all of my struggles / God will control that.”



Hip-hop publications have written generally positive reviews of the album, with XXL praising his “engrossing flow that leans heavily on delivery, carried by weighty commentary and a healthy dose of punchlines.” Online magazine HipHopDX called Moore “the most impactful Christian rapper.” Reviewer Jay Balfour, who gave the album 3.5 of 5 stars, continued that “it may not be a label he himself will flaunt, but he became the first Hip Hop artist to win a Grammy for Best Gospel Album last year and has assimilated into the mainstream more fully than any other emcee of his kind.”

 

Anomaly isn’t the first Christian album to top the Billboard list. Chris Tomlin and TobyMac have also taken home the honors in the past two years, as well as LeAnn Rimes and Bob Carlisle in the 90s. Before the album released Sept. 9, Moore launched a social media campaign asking fans to write out their own countercultural stories and tagging it #Anomaly, gaining responses from NBA stars such as Jeremy Lin. A few of the stories were then posted on a billboard in Times Square in New York.



As Moore continues down this untrodden path, he’s found detractors from both Christians and the hip-hop community upset that he doesn’t fit their mold. “Being a young black man who loves hip-hop and the culture of hip-hop, and yet loves Jesus at the same time makes me an anomaly,” Moore said in his album’s promo video. Still, “I think success is being exactly what God called us to be.”

 

Eagle Shot

 

Families of longtime Boy Scouts face tough decisions about whether to go or stay



By Allie Hulcher



(WNS)--Bruce Weatherly’s Eagle Scout rank means more to him than prestige, resumé fodder, or a chance to get a college scholarship. For the 18-year-old, reaching Eagle was about honoring his father’s memory.



His outdoorsy, rock-climbing, woods-hiking, and kayaking father died in 2009. Bruce’s mother Lauri Weatherly wanted her sons still to experience male leadership: “Boy scouting in general would be considered, in my eyes, their father.” 



After the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decided last year to accept openly gay scouts, scouting dissidents created Trail Life USA. With that decision came tension for families, particularly when sons were close to gaining the prestigious Eagle Scout rank, a symbol of ultimate achievement that scouts often list on college applications and use to win scholarships. Six-month-old Trail Life has to contend with that legacy: It offers an “achievement transfer” for boys, but BSA has trademarked the terms “scout” and the names of ranks. BSA has the Eagle Scout; Trail Life has the Freedom Award.



Bruce had written an essay opposing the admission of gay scouts, but he was also two months away from completing his six-month-long Eagle Scout project when his BSA troop in John’s Creek, Ga., disbanded. He had to decide whether to move to another troop and complete his Eagle, or take his Christian principles with him to Trail Life. His mom thought leaving without achieving Eagle rank would be “like dropping out of the race when you see the finish line before you,” but she encouraged Bruce to pray and then make the painful choice. He decided to stay in.

What about others?   



In June, at a Trail Life camp in western North Carolina, troop leaders from North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama sat around a wooden picnic table. Nearly 100 boys attending the camp were on a hunt for one boy in hiding, in a game called “Saving Private Bryan.” Meanwhile, the leaders told me how many of their boys had “rushed” to get the Eagle during the transitional time after the BSA decision. (In 2013, the second-largest number of boys in BSA history became Eagle Scouts.)



Luke Van Cleave, Bruce’s former BSA scoutmaster and now Trail Life Troop 317 leader, said seven of his former scouts moved to another BSA troop: Five of those boys were close to their Eagle, and two were their younger brothers. One Troop 317 boy, 16-year-old Eagle Scout John Jung, stayed in the Boy Scouts while joining Trail Life because of friends and the potential for further leadership roles in BSA. He said in Boy Scouts “they stack you up on merit badges till lunch.” 



Without the “Eagle Scout” designation, Trail Life is emphasizing that its boys will have not sashes but “standards”—wooden staffs that serve as part walking stick, part saber, like what shepherds and bishops and even Moses carried. Trail Life co-founder John Stemberger said a standard is “a little more masculine than a cloth and a patch.” The Trail Life website states the Freedom Award crest includes a “shield of faith,” a “sword of the spirit,” “trinity peaks,” a “mighty stag,” and “crossed keys,” all symbolic and referring to Bible passages.



An Eagle Scout himself, Stemberger said he’s still proud of his Eagle and will pass it on to his sons: “It’s not like I’m going to burn it or send it back or anything like that. Though I respect people who have done that.” Trail Life has to contend with BSA’s 104-year legacy and its iconic place in American culture, evident in Norman Rockwell’s scouting paintings. Stemberger says he has four of these prints hanging in his house: “When I walk by them I feel sad. It’s like part of America died.”



Goal Keeper

 

Ryan Hollingshead put pro soccer on hold to pursue his dream of helping his brother plant a church



By Andrew Branch



(WNS)--When Ryan Hollingshead spurned money and playing time in Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2013 to plant a church with his brother, outsiders tried to convince him not to waste his opportunity.



Hollingshead took their advice. But for him, the church was that opportunity.



Hollingshead, 23, and his brother Scott, 28, both played varsity soccer at UCLA. Both developed a desire for church-related ministry in their hometown of Sacramento.



When Ryan Hollingshead learned that his brother would start planting a Harvest Bible Fellowship church at the end of Ryan’s 2012 season at UCLA, he decided to forgo the MLS draft—and a top-five projection—and work with his brother instead. It was almost a “no-brainer,” he told me. He wanted to work alongside Scott when it was hardest, not after God had already established the church.



When MLS teams called him regarding the draft, Ryan told them he would probably never play. He spent draft day in Haiti at an orphanage with the woman who is now his wife. But the FC Dallas soccer team drafted him at No. 20 anyway, informing him they knew of his commitment and were willing to take the risk.



Dallas occasionally checked in as Ryan worked a day job in real estate and helped Scott at night. It was easy to get discouraged working 80-hour weeks on meetings that drew six people. Scott says his brother encouraged him when it was hard: “Ryan was always the one to kind of steer me back and be like, ‘No, Scott. The Lord is in this.’” Harvest Bible Chapel Sacramento officially launched in October, and a quickly meshing body relieved the burden on both of them.



Ryan signed with FC Dallas in December after a year with no practice. “Everything was slow,” he said. “My legs were … heavy. My touch was off. My thought process—I never knew what I wanted to do with the ball.” He’s now earning playing time, including his first start Aug. 16 at San Jose in front of Scott and the family. “I’ve got a lot more room to grow,” he said. “That makes me happy.”

 

Harvest Bible Chapel Sorry for Church Discipline

 

Three former elders censured publicly say they accept pastor James MacDonald’s apology



By Daniel James Devine



(WNS)--Harvest Bible Chapel, a Chicago-area megachurch with seven campuses and about 100 church plants around the world issued an apology over the weekend for harshly censuring three former elders last year.



James MacDonald, an author and the senior pastor of Harvest, read a statement to the church saying he and the current church elders met last week with the three men and asked for their forgiveness: “I wish to announce that the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel have unanimously agreed to lift all discipline from Scott Phelps and Barry Slabaugh and Dan Marquardt.”



Last year, as WORLD reported, Harvest excommunicated Phelps and Slabaugh and indirectly censured Marquardt after the three resigned the elder board in protest of what they said was a “culture of fear and intimidation” and a lack of transparency among church leadership. After Phelps, Slabaugh, and Marquardt joined five other former elders in signing a private letter of concern sent to the remaining elder board, the board initiated church discipline: In a video shown at the church’s campuses in September 2013 and posted online for two weeks, the elders said Scott Phelps and Barry Slabaugh were trying to “discredit and destroy our pastor” and displayed a “persistent spirit of superiority and self-righteousness.” The elders said the two men were no longer welcome at Harvest and asked members to cut off contact: “Avoid these former elders at all costs, lest you incur great detriment to your own soul.” Marquardt, who had already begun attending another church at the time, was indirectly mentioned in the video.



“We immediately realized that we erred in the manner in which it was done and in what it implied,” MacDonald said this weekend of the discipline proceedings, adding he and church leadership had failed to offer a “biblically required restorative component.”



“We met with these three brothers to ask for their forgiveness and seek reconciliation,” he continued. “Specifically we apologized for the harsh language we used to characterize them. We made statements about their character and actions that were hurtful and proved to be untrue.” MacDonald said there were still “differences” of perspective remaining between the church leadership and the three former elders, but said they had “agreed to be at peace with us and with Harvest.”



He concluded: “We urge the members of Harvest Bible Chapel and the Christian community to accept these brothers as valued members of the body of Christ. … We also ask the forgiveness of the wider Christian community that has watched this painful episode unfold.”



The three former elders confirmed to me they had accepted the church’s apology.



After multiple former Harvest members and elders raised questions on a blog called The Elephant’s Debt about the church’s leadership, including questions about MacDonald’s undisclosed salary, Harvest announced several changes aimed at increasing accountability. Last September the church joined the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and the elder board also announced this February MacDonald had voluntarily downsized to “a smaller home in Elgin,” Illinois, and had taken a “significant salary reduction,” although it did not state his current salary. The church struggled with a 21 percent decrease in contributions and other revenue between 2011 and 2013.



The current elder board has 33 elders, including MacDonald. Harvest restructured its elder board in 2009 when the board transitioned from a model of about 8-10 men to a larger one that eventually grew to around 30 people. Another restructuring occurred last year, when the church created an “Elder Leadership Team” of half a dozen or so elders.



According to a change in the church’s constitution that Harvest announced last year, the Elder Leadership Team will have “final authority in all matters relating to the church, including compensation, buying or selling property, and accountability of senior staff.” The full elder board approved the constitution change this summer.





 

NATIONAL BRIEFS





Missouri Family Appeals Contraceptive Mandate Ruling

 

(WNS)--A Missouri state legislator and his wife are hoping the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling will prompt a federal appeals court to side with them in their fight against the government’s contraceptive mandate.  Paul and Teresa Wieland filed suit against the Obama administration last year claiming the requirement to pay for contraceptives and abortifacient drugs through their health insurance plan violates their religious beliefs. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case Sept. 8.  “The U.S. Supreme Court rightly honored the religious liberty of business owners by granting an exemption from providing abortion pill coverage to their employees in Hobby Lobby,” said Tim Belz, an attorney with the Thomas More Society representing the Wielands. “The government has no business forcing parents to purchase coverage of abortion drugs and contraceptives for their family in violation of their religious beliefs. The government’s position is a wrecking ball in the cathedral of conscience rights.”



Missouri Lawmakers Override Veto to Enact Abortion Wait Period

 

(WNS)--The Missouri state legislature enacted a 72-hour wait period for abortions in early September, overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto from earlier this year.  The Democratic governor had previously vetoed the legislation because it didn’t include exceptions for rape and incest. Missouri passed a 24-hour wait period in 2003 that also didn’t include rape and incest exceptions. The governor labeled the new bill “extreme and disrespectful” toward women.  The law places Missouri in second place for most stringent wait-period laws. North Dakota’s 72-hour wait period, the strictest in the country, doesn’t include weekends or holidays. Utah follows Missouri; its 72-hour wait period allows exceptions for rape, incest, and other extreme circumstances. Missouri’s bill passed with bipartisan support, despite an attempted filibuster by Democratic senators. The vote was 117-44 in the House and 23-7 in the Senate.







 

Air Force Won’t Let Atheist Airman Skip God in Enlistment Oath

 

(WNS)--The Air Force has given an atheist airman until November to take his enlistment oath, which includes the phrase “so help me God.” If he refuses, he will not be allowed to rejoin his unit. Atheist groups have taken up the unnamed airman’s cause, but he may find himself caught in a battle over the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. The American Humanist Association (AHA) has written to inspectors general for the Air Force and Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, arguing the airman’s constitutional rights have been violated. The airman’s terms of service expire in November, and AHA claims his commanding officers rejected his written re-enlistment oath on Aug. 25 because he crossed out the words “so help me God.”





INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS



Man Challenges Belgium’s Euthanasia Law After Mom’s Death



(WNS)--Tom Mortier is taking Belgium to Europe’s highest court for allowing doctors to euthanize his depressed mother and waiting to notify him until the next day.  Euthanasia killings in Belgium and the Netherlands have spiked in recent years, especially for people with mental illness or depression, and the elderly who don’t want to go to nursing homes. Godelieva De Troyer died April 19, 2012, at the hands of an oncologist—not her psychiatrist of 20 years, who refused to say her depression was untreatable.







                                                                                                                                               



                 

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World Report, Week #35, 2014

Written by Editor in Chief on . Posted in World

WORLD News Service – September 12 2014

                                                                                                                                   



More turmoil for Seattle’s Mars Hill Church: Worship leader Dustin Kensrue’s resignation caps two difficult weeks since Pastor Mark Driscoll announced a six-week sabbatical



Missouri family appeals contraceptive mandate ruling

 

Missouri lawmakers override veto to enact abortion wait period

 

Why do some feminists oppose nail polish that prevents date rape?

 

Air Force won’t let atheist airman skip God in enlistment oath

 

Missing children: With dashed hopes and dreams, infertile couples embark on an often misunderstood journey

 

Man challenges Belgium’s euthanasia law after mom’s death

 



NATIONAL BRIEFS



INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS



                                                                                                                                   



More turmoil for Seattle’s Mars Hill Church

 

Worship leader Dustin Kensrue’s resignation caps two difficult weeks since Pastor Mark Driscoll announced a six-week sabbatical



By Warren Cole Smith



(WNS)--Two weeks ago, Pastor Mark Driscoll announced he was taking a six-week sabbatical from the pulpit of Mars Hill Church. It was reasonable to think the church would then go through a cooling-off period, and things might return to normal. But the last two weeks have proven anything but that.



The first jolt came just days after Driscoll’s announcement: Nine elders at Mars Hill Church—out of approximately 30 on the Full Council of Elders (FCE)—wrote a 4,000-word letter to their fellow elders calling on Driscoll to step down “not just from the pulpit, but from all aspects of ministry and leadership.” The letter called on him to submit to a “restoration plan … under the authority of the elders of the church. He will continue to receive his salary so long as he continues to cooperate with the restoration plan set before him by the elders of Mars Hill Church.”



Although the letter was leaked after Driscoll’s sabbatical announcement, it was dated Aug. 22, two days before the pastor told his congregation of his plans.



It’s not clear if the letter influenced Driscoll’s decision to take a break. What is clear is that within a week at least four of the letter’s signers had left the church. Among them was Mars Hill director of worship Dustin Kensrue, who resigned on Monday and issued his own 3,000-word statement Wednesday, saying, “Because of the letter, my voice within the leadership is so sufficiently tainted that I believe I can have a bigger and more helpful impact by resigning and raising a red flag for the people who remain.”



Kensrue said five of the signers of the letter were from the church’s main campus in Bellevue, Wash., a suburb of Seattle.



“It was made clear we weren’t going to be fired at this point (I am assuming for PR reasons),” he wrote. “But it was also made equally clear to us where the door was, and that it would be just fine if we chose to walk through it.” He added, “Mars Hill is not on a good trajectory. … If Mars Hill is to survive even another six months, it needs to be a place of radical repentance: repentance of pride, deception, domineering attitudes, lazy and self-serving hermeneutics, and a slew of other sins.”



Representatives from Mars Hill Church did not respond publicly to Kensrue’s resignation, but the church did issue a statement about the elder letter through its newly engaged public relations consultant, Mark DeMoss.



“This letter, as with past letters voicing accusations toward Mark Driscoll will be processed in accordance with Article 12 of the church’s bylaws,” DeMoss wrote. “This means the accusations will be thoroughly examined and a report issued when the review is complete. In the meantime, it does not seem appropriate to comment on specific accusations before/while they are being formally reviewed as we don’t want to circumvent the process prescribed by the governing body of Mars Hill.”



But the church did comment on its current financial position. A statement posted on the Mars Hill website Monday said recent events have had a negative financial impact on the church. “While we were able to end the fiscal year [June 30] strong, giving and attendance have declined significantly since January,” the statement said. “Specifically, we have seen a substantial decrease in tithes and offerings these past two months, due to the increase in negative media attention surrounding our church.”



Mars Hill has gone through two rounds of layoffs since the beginning of the year, and it has canceled a number of events and projects, including its flagship Resurgence Conference. Despite these cost-cutting moves, the statement said, “We now find ourselves in a tougher financial position than we expected. The drop in giving revenue has exceeded what we have been able to cut in expenses. This has required us to now consider further ways we can reduce expenses, such as additional staffing reductions. The reality is that just because we are a church does not mean we can defy economic gravity.”



Whether Mars Hill Church can survive this crisis depends in large part on how it responds. The church has taken some significant steps. Two members of its Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA)—Paul Tripp and James MacDonald—have resigned, and the church has replaced them with local church members, a move recommended by Tripp as a way to create a “biblically functioning internal elder board.” But Mars Hill critics—including those elders who signed the letter released on Aug. 28—say the Full Council of Elders already exists and should fill that role.



The two new members of the BOAA, who will replace Tripp and MacDonald, have long ties to Driscoll, though they do meet the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability’s definition of independence because they are not on the payroll of the church.

 

Missouri family appeals contraceptive mandate ruling

 

By Leigh Jones



(WNS)--A Missouri state legislator and his wife are hoping the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling will prompt a federal appeals court to side with them in their fight against the government’s contraceptive mandate.



Paul and Teresa Wieland filed suit against the Obama administration last year claiming the requirement to pay for contraceptives and abortifacient drugs through their health insurance plan violates their religious beliefs. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case Sept. 8.



“The U.S. Supreme Court rightly honored the religious liberty of business owners by granting an exemption from providing abortion pill coverage to their employees in Hobby Lobby,” said Tim Belz, an attorney with the Thomas More Society representing the Wielands. “The government has no business forcing parents to purchase coverage of abortion drugs and contraceptives for their family in violation of their religious beliefs. The government’s position is a wrecking ball in the cathedral of conscience rights.”



The Wielands, who are Catholic, claim the mandate violates their religious liberty, free speech, and parental rights by forcing them to choose between canceling healthcare coverage for their three daughters or paying for drugs and services they object to on moral grounds. The family gets its health insurance through the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan, which provides coverage for state employees. They previously requested a plan that did not include objectionable drugs, but when the Obama administration announced the contraceptive mandate, the Wielands’insurer informed them they would have to pay for contraceptive and abortifacient coverage.



When they filed their suit, the Wielands claimed the government had no right to deny them an exemption to the mandate, since it had offered exemptions to other groups, including churches. The Wielands’ suit is the first brought by individuals against the mandate. A district judge in St. Louis sided with the government last year.



But that was before the Hobby Lobby ruling. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled business owners who object to the mandate on religious grounds don’t have to pay for the coverage for their employees, the Wielands have a stronger case.



“If the corporations don’t have to do this for their employees, certainly Mom and Dad don’t have to do it for their daughters,” Belz told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after court.



The government’s attorney, Alisa Klein, said the Wielands’case is different because they are asking for the state insurer to tailor a plan just for them.



“Here we have 100,000 beneficiaries in the Missouri group healthcare plan and there is no precedent for having the employer design the plan 100,000 ways,” she said.



Missouri lawmakers override veto to enact abortion wait period

 

By Courtney Crandell



(WNS)--The Missouri state legislature enacted a 72-hour wait period for abortions in early September, overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto from earlier this year.



The Democratic governor had previously vetoed the legislation because it didn’t include exceptions for rape and incest. Missouri passed a 24-hour wait period in 2003 that also didn’t include rape and incest exceptions. The governor labeled the new bill “extreme and disrespectful” toward women.  



The law, set to take effect in 30 days, places Missouri in second place for most stringent wait-period laws. North Dakota’s 72-hour wait period, the strictest in the country, doesn’t include weekends or holidays. Utah follows Missouri; its 72-hour wait period allows exceptions for rape, incest, and other extreme circumstances.



Missouri’s bill passed with bipartisan support, despite an attempted filibuster by Democratic senators. The vote was 117-44 in the House and 23-7 in the Senate.



The extended wait period will help women make more informed decisions about their abortions, said Missouri Right to Life President Pam Fichter. “This reflection time gives a woman time to contemplate her situation, research information about the dangers and consequences of abortion, and review the help and resources that are available to her through the alternatives-to-abortion program and other sources,” she said.



Planned Parenthood, which operates Missouri’s only licensed abortion facility, didn’t say whether it would challenge the legislation in court, but did say the legislation would make obtaining an abortion less convenient.



Linda Raymond of St. Louis said that if her abortion had been more inconvenient 38 years ago, along with having more available information and an ultrasound, she might have chosen to keep her child. “A 72-hour time frame is compassionate for women,” she said.



The legislature also overrode a veto of legislation that increases funding available to pregnancy resource centers through tax credits. Like the wait-period bill, it also passed with a bipartisan vote. “More and more women are choosing life and are in need of help and services,” Fichter said. “These bills work together to protect the women of Missouri and ensure that, in this matter of life and death, they don't make a decision that will have a detrimental effect on them both physically and emotionally.”



Missouri has a history of bipartisan support for pro-life bills. In 1999, Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass a bill prohibiting partial-birth abortions. The 2003 wait-period bill also passed with bipartisan support.



Missouri has successfully passed several other laws restricting abortion including laws limiting insurance coverage and public funding of abortions. Statistics demonstrate the laws’ success. Abortions in Missouri have decreased by a third since 1999,and several facilities have stopped providing abortions.

 

Why do some feminists oppose nail polish that prevents date rape?

 

By Caroline Leal



(WNS)--Preventative solutions to sexual assault are getting stylish.



The startup company Undercover Colors, which markets itself as “the first fashion company to prevent sexual assault,” is currently developing a nail polish capable of detecting the presence of common date-rape drugs like Rohypnol and Xanax, which are generally colorless and odorless, in beverages. All a woman has to do is dip her nail into a drink and see if the polish changes color. What the product may lack in discretion (or good table manners and hygiene, for that matter), it makes up for in ingenuity, its developers claim. 



Undercover Colors was founded by four undergraduate engineering students at North Carolina State University. According to co-founder Ankesh Madan, inspiration for the polish came from personal experience. 



“We were thinking about big problems in our society, [and] the topic of drug-facilitated sexual assault came up,” he recently told Higher Education Works. “All of us have been close to someone who has been through the terrible experience, and we began to focus on preventive solutions, especially those that could be integrated into products that women already use.”



While the company is still in the development and fundraising phase, and there’s no word on when the polish will be made available to the public, Undercover Colors has received positive reviews on social media and from online critics applauding its cleverness. “This is an amazing idea that I support wholeheartedly,” wrote one commenter on the Undercover Colors Facebook page. “I have a daughter myself, and will ensure that she uses the product.”



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault during their lifetimes. Nearly a third of sexual assault cases take place while women are in college. A 2009 study estimates 20 percent of college women will become victims of date rape by the time they are seniors, with alcohol playing a role in their assault nearly 90 percent of the time.



Scarlet Devens, a 23-year-old single woman from Westtown, N.Y., said that while she rarely goes on dates with men she does not already know and trust, she would still use a product like Undercover Colors as a safeguard and encourage her female friends to do the same: “I am confident that certain friends and acquaintances of mine have experienced these horrors [of sexual assault], and I am very intentional about avoiding potentially dangerous situations to the extent that I am able.”



But the likely effectiveness of Undercover Colors has recently come under fire, with some critics arguing that clever ideas and good intentions don’t add up to a product that actually empowers women. The blog Feministing claims date rape drugs are not used to facilitate sexual assault all that often in comparison to the use of plain alcohol. The blog complains the nail polish, like anti-rape underwear and pepper spray cameras, is yet another “gimmicky” precaution that will only succeed in falsely convincing women they are protected from sexual violence. 



Tara Cul-Ressler of Think Progress wrote that well-intentioned products like Undercover Colors could actually end up fueling victim blaming: “Any college students who don’t use the special polish could open themselves up to criticism for failing to do everything in their power to prevent rape.”



Air Force won’t let atheist airman skip God in enlistment oath

 

By Andrew Branch



(WNS)--The Air Force has given an atheist airman until November to take his enlistment oath, which includes the phrase “so help me God.” If he refuses, he will not be allowed to rejoin his unit. Atheist groups have taken up the unnamed airman’s cause, but he may find himself caught in a battle over the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.



The American Humanist Association (AHA) has written to inspectors general for the Air Force and Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, arguing the airman’s constitutional rights have been violated. The airman’s terms of service expire in November, and AHA claims his commanding officers rejected his written re-enlistment oath on Aug. 25 because he crossed out the words “so help me God.”



Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Monica Miller, an attorney with the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, told the Air Force on Sept. 2 that her organization will sue if the airman is barred from re-enlisting.



Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson told the Air Force Times on Tuesday that the Air Force has asked Defense Department lawyers to review the oath requirement. The controversy has become the latest front in an ongoing battle over religious freedom in the military, packaged and painted in starkly different ways by both sides.



AHA and similar groups are known for protesting virtually any kind of expression, including Bibles on officers’ desks, that identifies a leader’s religious affiliation while in his or her official capacity. This summer, a Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint led the Navy Exchange to remove Bibles donated by Gideons International from rooms in base lodges. An outcry prompted Navy leadership to order the Bibles returned last month.



Evangelicals often see such cases as a growing hostility toward Christians in the military, while atheist groups claim they’re fighting an ingrained culture of religious fundamentalism that may make non-Christians feel uncomfortable.



The most recent Air Force battle occurred in March, when a cadet at the Air Force Academy voluntarily removed a Bible verse from the whiteboard on his dorm room door after someone complained to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which notified Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson. Because the cadet had a leadership position, the Academy decided he could not write a Bible verse on his door.



The reenlistment oath poses a different question, but it’s no less nuanced. The Air Force Times reported Wednesday that neither the Army nor the Navy requires soldiers to say “so help me God” in their enlistment oaths. The Department of Defense doesn’t require it. A quiet change to Air Force regulations in October 2013, though, removed the option for airmen not to say the phrase—because a United States law requires it.



Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody told the Air Force Times that the Air Force is “more than willing” to work with the airman, but “we have to comply with the law.”



The Air Force seems to have taken the stand that not even recent Department of Defense orders relaxing enforcement can ignore the law and circumvent Congress, though MRFF president and activist Mikey Weinstein calls following the law a “pathetically partisan, conservative theocratic agenda.” Weinstein wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on behalf of 17 Air Force officers concerned about the oath.



“‘Believe or be gone’ was not the motto of our founders, and it’s not an idea that our predecessors fought and died for,” Weinstein said. He also claimed the Air Force policy amounts to “deliberately leaning the singular most lethal organization ever to exist on this planet towards a reflection of ISIS.”

 

Missing children

 

With dashed hopes and dreams, infertile couples embark on an often misunderstood journey



By Bethany E. Starin



(WNS)--Five days before Christmas, I stood in the shower—hot water pelting my back, blood running down my legs as I miscarried our first baby. Choked by tears, I managed to croak out the only stable thing I could hold on to: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. His rod and His staff, they comfort me.”



I had spent the previous year undergoing blood tests, ultrasounds, and a pile of negative pregnancy tests. Then in December, blood work showed an early pregnancy, which turned into a miscarriage that same week. Before this experience, infertility had never crossed my mind, but the loss of our unborn child opened my eyes to a new world. In my pain, I found I wasn’t alone.



Eleven percent of women nationwide are infertile—unable to conceive or carry a baby to full term. One in four pregnancies ends in early miscarriage. For more than 80 percent of couples, it takes a year to conceive. Despite the number of people it affects, infertility is a widely avoided topic. Even Christians who are adamantly pro-life often understate the grief attached to infertility and miscarriage. They treat these tiny human beings as if they never existed and unintentionally isolate suffering couples.



Lauren Casper, 30, teared up as she talked about her nine years of infertility, the two babies she miscarried, and the two children she and her husband have since adopted. Casper said even in her loving church, she has never found a kindred friend who similarly experienced infertility: “You have all these broken hearts and all these hurting people sitting in church pews and it is not being addressed. … Where are all these grieving mothers and fathers?”



Casper breaks that silence by blogging and speaking about her infertility. She describes one vivid memory when she was Christmas shopping with her husband and his cell phone rang. It was the fertility specialist calling with the results of four months of testing. Definitive infertility on both sides, he said: “Some people just can’t have children. Now you need to work on accepting that.”



At that time Casper had been married two years. She was 23. “I couldn’t accept it. … How could everything you have ever wanted be taken from you at the beginning?” Grappling with a God who would ask her to surrender her lifelong dreams, Casper found herself weeping in a pew at Virginia Military Institute’s chapel, where her husband now serves as chaplain. “Am I going to trust God? That was the pivotal moment.”



Two years later Casper began researching Ethiopian adoption agencies. Their now 3-year-old son, Mareto, came home in February 2011, followed a year and a half later by their now 2-year-old daughter, Arsema. Casper says motherhood didn’t remove her longing for a biological child. After Mareto came home, she was surprised the struggle was still painful: “Did that longing for pregnancy go away? No. But it got so much better.” She says she’s “thankful for the journey of infertility because I don’t know if otherwise I would have Mareto and Arsema. I cannot imagine life without them.”



In Oklahoma, three packets of carefully collected pictures, handwritten notes, and pregnancy tests are all Jessica Cockroft has to remember the three lives she carried but never got to meet: “I wrote their stories from start to finish and added any pictures I took while I was pregnant with them. I have those as memories.”



Cockroft, 24, and her husband Joshua, a Republican state representative, celebrated their third anniversary in January. She first became pregnant seven months after her wedding in January 2011: “I had no thought of the possibility that we would lose the baby.”



In February 2012, morning sickness and mood swings returned with the joyful discovery that she was again pregnant. But the baby died before doctors could detect a heartbeat. “That was the only time I can remember in my life that I was angry at God.” Cockroft said. “I knew that God heard me in my anger and He stayed with me.”



About a year later, Cockroft had a third positive pregnancy test. She recalled lying on the examination table on a beautiful morning in April 2013, staring at that same screen that had revealed the passing of their other two babies. This time, the line on the monitor screen jumped up and down. The Cockrofts walked out the door holding pictures of their 8-week-old baby, the sound of its heartbeat seared in their minds. At a follow-up appointment, the heartbeat was gone.



“People who have not experienced this loss think it should be easier because we hadn’t actually had the child yet,” Cockroft said. “It’s the same grieving process for a mother who has lost a child.”



Cockroft said her caring church family didn’t know how to respond to her repeated losses, and she couldn’t articulate her feelings. She withdrew, working through much of her pain privately and with a small circle of friends. As time went on, she realized that many people thought their lack of children indicated a lack of interest in having them: “People are not taking into consideration that perhaps we had trouble having kids.”



While women experience most directly the pain of miscarriage, men also suffer. It took Indiana pastor Nate Pyle, 34, and his wife Sarah about 15 months to get pregnant with their now 4-year-old son, Luke. They’ve recently passed the two-year mark of hoping for a second child: “Every month is a month that you hope. Maybe this is the month where it will happen. … The monthly cycle starts to crush any desire to hold out hope.”



After they lost a baby to an ectopic pregnancy in March 2013, Pyle got into a yelling match with God. “You said that you formed us in our mother’s womb. Why didn’t this child make it to the womb?” Pyle screamed into the woods. He sensed God replying: I am grieving that this world isn’t the way it is supposed to be either. Pyle said his grief changed. He experienced God as a personal God who brings comfort in suffering.



With so many couples struggling with infertility, Pyle wonders why Christians speak so little about it. The silence, he says, “doesn’t create a great space to care for people.”



Like those other couples, I assumed having children would be easy. The pain of infertility and losing a child challenged me to grapple with what I was created to be. Soon after my miscarriage, I spoke with a friend who pointed out the cultural lie we buy into—that we control our own fertility. This truth helped transfer my hope from a positive pregnancy test to trust in God.



Three months later, I learned I was expecting again—and this time with twin boys! Yet, one twin is not developing properly and has less than a 50 percent chance of survival. In this new stage, I hurt in a deeper way but have found freedom in not pretending I’m in control. There is One who controls my fertility, and I hold onto that in the midst of the rawness, the pain.

 

Man challenges Belgium’s euthanasia law after mom’s death



By Andrew Branch



(WNS)--Tom Mortier is taking Belgium to Europe’s highest court for allowing doctors to euthanize his depressed mother and waiting to notify him until the next day.



Euthanasia killings in Belgium and the Netherlands have spiked in recent years, especially for people with mental illness or depression, and the elderly who don’t want to go to nursing homes. Godelieva De Troyer died April 19, 2012, at the hands of an oncologist—not her psychiatrist of 20 years, who refused to say her depression was untreatable.



Mortier, a professor at Leuven University College, has spent the last two and a half years learning about and fighting euthanasia, decrying its morbid disguise as healthcare. “This has nothing to do with humanism,” Mortier seethed in an interview last year. “This has nothing to do with taking care of a human being.” 



Mortier told me in a brief email Sept. 10 that he delved into euthanasia law and where it came from after his mother died. He was featured in international media as an advocate for life as Quebec debated and eventually legalized euthanasia last year. “I believe that the appeal to ‘free choice’ is becoming a dogma of convenience,” Mortier argues in a post on his blog. “We are rapidly changing into a society of absolute loneliness where we don’t want to take care of each other any more.”



It wasn’t until last week, though, that Mortier and Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights over his mother’s death.



ADF’s Robert Clarke, based in Vienna, Austria, told me the organization heard about the case “through providence.” Roger Kiska, another ADF attorney, heard of Mortier’s case while in Belgium this year as the country debated and eventually legalized the euthanasia of children. Kiska and ADF have worked with Mortier ever since, developing the case for the high court after verifying Mortier had exhausted all his legal options in Belgium.



The court doesn’t have to take the case, but Clarke and his team believe it has a chance to roll back euthanasia advocates’ gains in western Europe. ADF and Mortier want to “challenge … what has essentially become euthanasia without any limits,” Clarke told me. 



First, they argue the euthanasia of Mortier’s mother violated Belgium’s own laws. “She suffered from a mental illness that is not only treatable, but on her own account was caused at least in part by feeling distant from her children,” Clarke said.



The doctors she sought out to approve her death—after those who knew her refused—never sought treatment for her depression by asking the children to speak to their mother, who had broken off contact with them. 



“The few safeguards that do exist in the law aren’t being used to safeguard anyone,” Clarke said. 



Even worse, oncologist Wim Distelmans did not approve De Troyer’s request until after she donated €2,500 to Life End Information Forum, a euthanasia organization Distelmans co-founded. Distelmans also co-chairs the government's policing arm that verifyies euthanasia cases comply with the law, so he was “policing himself,” Clarke told me. 



ADF also is challenging the larger issue of euthanasia, arguing it is illegal based on European human rights law. Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights declares that “everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law,” and “no one shall be deprived of his life intentionally” unless ordered by criminal conviction. But Article 8 gives Europeans a right to a private life—a clause used by pro-euthanasia activists to justify allowing people to take their own lives.



Bioethicist Theo Boer, who sits on a Dutch government committee that reviews the country’s euthanasia cases, told me in an email that while unusual, similar cases can happen in the Netherlands. “I think the fact that the children weren't informed is heartbreaking, but it happens here, too,” he said. Boer, once a supporter of euthanasia, now urges countries against legalization as his country’s safeguards, once lauded by many for protecting human dignity, have disintegrated.

 

 

NATIONAL BRIEFS



Highland Park Presbyterian settles with PCUSA



(WNS)--Highland Park Presbyterian in Dallas, one of the largest churches in the Presbyterian Church (USA) will pay the denomination $7.8 million to settle a suit over ownership of the church’s campus and other assets. In October, 89 percent of the church’s membership voted to disassociate with the PCUSA and join the more conservative A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). The PCUSA’s support for gay clergy provided one reason for the split. Another former PCUSA church, Menlo Park Presbyterian in California, reached a similar arrangement with the denomination when it left earlier this year, agreeing to pay $8.9 million for its property. Menlo Park also joined ECO.



 

Cruz walks out on gala to protest anti-Israel hecklers

 

(WNS)--Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, walked off the stage at a gala dinner for Middle Eastern Christians after some in the crowd booed his pro-Israel remarks. “I told the attendees that those who hate Israel also hate America, that those who hate Jews also hate Christians, and that anyone who hates Israel and the Jewish people is not following the teachings of Christ,” Cruz said in a statement after the speech. He was speaking at a dinner hosted by the recently founded group In Defense of Christians (IDC), which seeks to call attention to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. When the hecklers would not quiet down, Cruz reportedly said, “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you” and walked off the stage. IDC has denounced the disruption, saying a small group of political opportunists caused it. 



Dinesh D’Souza Pleads for Mercy, Voices Regret

 

(WNS)--Conservative commentator and former Christian college president Dinesh D’Souza, facing a Sept. 23 sentencing in New York, asked for community service probation instead of prison time in court filings on Wednesday. He told the judge overseeing his sentencing that he was sorry for his actions and wouldn’t repeat them. Accompanying the pre-sentencing memo were dozens of letters of support from D’Souza’s friends, family, and colleagues.  In May, D’Souza pleaded guilty to orchestrating $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions for U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long. D’Souza faces 10 to 16 months in prison under the plea deal, but his defense has argued that his integrity and lack of criminal record should allow a ‘nonguideline’ sentence. His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, argued that similar cases had resulted in probation, not prison time. Brafman suggested a probation sentence under which D’Souza could do community service at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego or teach English to new immigrants. D’Souza also argued that he had “paid a price” for his crimes because of the public humiliation around the case and his conviction. 



Women’s College Redefines “Women”

 

(WNS)--An all-women’s college in South Hadley, Mass., has expanded its definition of “women” with a new admissions policy this week. Mount Holyoke College President Lynn Pasquerella announced in her convocation speech that the school would accept openly transgender students, including students who were born male but identify themselves as women. The policy change comes after Mills College in Oakland, Calif., announced this summer it would accept “self-identified women” into its all-women’s school—the first single-sex college in the United States to publicly establish such a policy.



Andrew Klavan Hired to Write Script for Gosnell

 

(WNS)--The producers of the movie about convicted killer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell have hired bestselling and award-winning novelist and screenwriter Andrew Klavan to write its screenplay. The hire is the latest gutsy move for the team behind Gosnell, which broke records by raising the most money—about $2.1 million with the help of almost 27,000 donors—at Indiegogo, a crowdfunding website.  Husband-and-wife filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, along with Magda Segieda, decided to make a film about Gosnell because they believed nobody else in liberal-leaning Hollywood would. They call Gosnell “America’s biggest serial killer”— but he’s also one of the least known. The Gosnell case caused much ire and disgust within pro-life and conservative circles, but barely sparked interest from mainstream media.



Federal Judge: Louisiana Has a Right to Ban Gay Marriage



(WNS)--A federal judge in New Orleans became the first in the nation to uphold traditional marriage laws on Sept. 3, ruling Louisiana has a right to regulate marriage as it sees fit. Louisiana bans same-sex marriage and does not recognize such unions formed in other states. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said the couples challenging the laws failed to prove they violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection or due process provisions. The couples also argued the state’s laws violate the First Amendment because they can’t file joint tax returns, which would allow them to access federal tax deductions. The Louisiana couples, represented by Forum on Equality, plan to appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.



Traditional Marriage Laws Fall in Two More States

 

(WNS)--A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously struck down traditional marriage provisions in Wisconsin and Indiana. A constitutional amendment approved in 2006 by voters limited marriage in Wisconsin to heterosexual couples, while state law did the same in Indiana. Neither state recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states. During oral arguments in August, Ronald Reagan appointee Judge Richard Posner said bans on same-sex marriage amounted to “hate” and “savage discrimination.” Posner continued his extreme language in the court’s opinion on the case, stating, “homosexuals are among the most stigmatized, misunderstood, and discriminated-against minorities in the history of the world.” The 7th Circuit is the third federal appeals court to reverse state laws on marriage.



Louisiana Abortionists Can Practice Without Hospital Support, For Now

 

(WNS)--A federal judge on Aug. 30 temporarily blocked enforcement of a Louisiana law that requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Three of the state’s five abortion facilities filed suit, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR). The law requires all Louisiana abortionists to obtain admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their respective facilities. Violators risk losing their licenses and a $4,000 fine. The restraining order allows abortionists to continue to practice while they seek admitting privileges. District Judge John deGravelles said he will hold a conference in 30 days to evaluate the progress toward obtaining admitting privileges and set a court date for his ruling on a preliminary injunction.

 



INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS



Hamas to talk with Israel



(WNS)--A Hamas leader said the group was ready to break its long-standing silent treatment of Israel and talk directly to the country’s leaders. The terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, where a bloody conflict ended just two weeks ago, wants to negotiate over issues such as border crossings between Gaza and Israel and prisoner releases. “Up till now our policy was no negotiation with (Israel), but others should be aware that this issue is not taboo,” said Hamas’s second-in-command, Musa Abu Marzouk, in an interview with Al Quds TV.





                                                                                                                                               



                 

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World Report, Week 34, 2014

Written by Editor in Chief on . Posted in World

WORLD News Service – September 5 2014

Dinesh D'Souza Pleads for Mercy, Voices Regret: Conservative commentator asks judge not to send him to jail after pleading guilty to orchestrating illegal campaign contributions

Women's College Redefines "Women" Mount Holyoke becomes the first of the 'Seven Sisters' to accept transgender students based solely on their self-identity

Game Changer Gamechurch is seizing opportunities to reach the gaming community

Millennial Writes a Parent's Guide to the Evangelical Left

Andrew Klavan Hired to Write Script for Gosnell

Missionaries Who Beat Ebola Speak Out as Another Doctor is Diagnosed

Federal Judge: Louisiana Has a Right to Ban Gay Marriage

Traditional Marriage Laws Fall in Two More States

Louisiana Abortionists Can Practice Without Hospital Support, For Now

NATIONAL BRIEFS

INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

Dinesh D'Souza Pleads for Mercy, Voices Regret

Conservative commentator asks judge not to send him to jail after pleading guilty to orchestrating illegal campaign contributions

By Emily Belz

(WNS)--Conservative commentator and former Christian college president Dinesh D'Souza, facing a Sept. 23 sentencing in New York, asked for community service probation instead of prison time in court filings on Wednesday. He told the judge overseeing his sentencing that he was sorry for his actions and wouldn't repeat them. Accompanying the pre-sentencing memo were dozens of letters of support from D'Souza's friends, family, and colleagues.

In May, D'Souza pleaded guilty to orchestrating $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions for U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long. D'Souza faces 10 to 16 months in prison under the plea deal, but his defense has argued that his integrity and lack of criminal record should allow a 'nonguideline' sentence. His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, argued that similar cases had resulted in probation, not prison time. Brafman suggested a probation sentence under which D'Souza could do community service at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego or teach English to new immigrants. D'Souza also argued that he had "paid a price" for his crimes because of the public humiliation around the case and his conviction.

"When I think about what I did, I am filled with a sense of sheer frustration, exasperation, and regret," D'Souza wrote in a statement to District Judge Richard Berman. "I cannot believe how stupid I was, how careless, and how irresponsible. I keep going back and trying to envision how I ended up here, asking myself, 'What were you thinking?' ... I should have figured out a legal way to help her. Instead I took a short-cut, knowing that there was a campaign limit and trying to get around the limit."

Long, in a letter on D'Souza's behalf, emphasized that D'Souza gave the straw donations without any expectation of quid pro quo. But his sentencing memo revealed a motive: Before the straw donations, Long introduced D'Souza to "an individual who would later become the principal financial underwriter of his film."

"Dinesh's desire to repay that kindness severely clouded his judgment and left him desperately seeking a way to repay her, an objective that eventually culminated in this criminal prosecution," his defense wrote.

Danielle D'Souza, his daughter, described Long as one of D'Souza's first friends when he immigrated to America. "When she asked him for help while running for the Senate in 2012, he could not refuse," she wrote.

Other writers in support of D'Souza included Eric Bennett, the vice president for student development at The King's College, where D'Souza was the president until revelations about a relationship he had with a woman who was not his wife spurred him to resign. Tyler Vawser, D'Souza's assistant at King's and now the college's director of marketing and communications, also wrote a letter in support. Vawser was one of the straw donors and was scheduled to testify against D'Souza if the trial had gone through.

"During his tenure at The King's College, admissions grew, fundraising increased, and the college's reputation improved," said Vawser. "While the circumstances around his departure were not ideal, the staff that worked closest with Dinesh still respect him greatly to this day. ... I know firsthand that Dinesh had no intent to corrupt the political system when he engaged in the conduct that led to his guilty plea."

Stanley Fish, a law professor at Cardozo Law School in New York who has publicly debated D'Souza, wrote in support of his friend. So did Fish's wife, Jane Tompkins, a retired English professor at Duke University. Other letters of support came from producers of D'Souza's films, professors from D'Souza's alma mater, Dartmouth College, friends, his mom in India—even his daughter's best friend.

Danielle D'Souza described how her parents' failed marriage played into the case.

"A few weeks after making the mistake of violating New York's campaign finance laws, my parents filed for divorce," Danielle continued. "He was very stressed during this time as my parents had been married for 20 years. ... This all weighed on him greatly, and I can confidently say that this would impair anyone's judgment. My father has had to endure a lot of suffering in the last few years and I humbly ask that you give him a lenient sentence."

The prosecution will weigh in with its recommendation by Sept. 8.

Women's College Redefines "Women"

Mount Holyoke becomes the first of the 'Seven Sisters' to accept transgender students based solely on their self-identity

By Daniel James Devine

(WNS)--An all-women's college in South Hadley, Mass., has expanded its definition of "women" with a new admissions policy this week. On Tuesday, Mount Holyoke College President Lynn Pasquerella announced in her convocation speech that the school would accept openly transgender students, including students who were born male but identify themselves as women.

The policy change comes after Mills College in Oakland, Calif., announced this summer it would accept "self-identified women" into its all-women's school—the first single-sex college in the United States to publicly establish such a policy.

Mount Holyoke is the first school among the historic "Seven Sisters" women's colleges—one-time female equivalents of the Ivy League schools—to craft a policy admitting transgendered students on the sole basis of self-identification.

These new admissions policies reveal a trend toward viewing traditional categories of male and female as discriminatory in some cases. In recent months, single-sex schools, including Mount Holyoke, have been under pressure by student advocacy groups to admit transgender men and women. The student group MHC Femmepowered earlier this year posted photos of students expressing support for transgender women at Mount Holyoke.

"There's a recognition that these old categories, the gender binary, is rejected by many people today," Pasquerella told me on Wednesday. "So how do we accommodate that in an institution that is committed to women's education, first and foremost?"

According to Mount Holyoke's new admission policy, the school will now permit the following types of transgender students to apply for admission:

• Biologically born female; identifies as a woman.
• Biologically born female; identifies as a man.
• Biologically born female; identifies as other/they/ze.
• Biologically born female; does not identify as either woman or man.
• Biologically born male; identifies as woman.
• Biologically born male; identifies as other/they/ze and when "other/they" identity includes woman.
• Biologically born with both male and female anatomy (Intersex); identifies as a woman.

The school's policy notes one identity category still barred from admission: "Biologically born male; identifies as man."

But such a male student could attend the school if he identified as a woman at the time of his initial admittance and then later changed his self-identity to "male." Mount Holyoke's policy says it would not ask such students to leave once they are admitted.

Mount Holyoke applicants won't have to provide any doctor's records or documentation to prove they have consistently identified as a gender other than their birth gender. Nor will they be required to have undergone surgery or hormonal treatments. Instead, the school will rely on how the student identifies himself or herself.

"Many students will choose leaving home for college as an opportunity to explore or proclaim new identities," the school's admission policy says. "Whether a student transitions suddenly or has a long history with a particular gender identity will not have an impact on how their application for admission is assessed."

Mount Holyoke expects students to act in good faith. Pasquerella told me if a male student applied as a woman for "fraudulent purposes," such as to try to crack open the door to coeducation, it would be a violation of the school's honor code and grounds for dismissal.

Yet, "if we accept the notion of gender fluidity, then we would allow, as we have now, students who come in as women and who graduate as men," she said.

Mount Holyoke, a school of 2,200 students, already has at least one transgendered student enrolled. It previously evaluated applications on a case-by-case basis and has not, until now, articulated formal guidelines. Pasquerella said other Seven Sisters colleges have admitted transgender students on a case-by-case basis as well.

Another Seven Sisters school, Smith College in Northhampton, Mass., has also been under pressure to admit transgender students on the sole basis of self-identity. Smith currently allows applications from transgender women but still requires that "a student's application and supporting documentation (transcripts, recommendations, etc.) will reflect her identity as a woman."

Mills College updated its policy over the summer to admit transgender students to its all-women's undergraduate program, but did not extend admission to people who were born female but have already undergone "a legal change of gender to male" at the time of their application. Brian O'Rourke, vice president of enrollment and admissions at the college, told the San Francisco Chronicle only three to five out of every 1,000 Mills undergraduates identifies as transgender.

Mount Holyoke, founded as a nondenominational women's "seminary" in 1837, taught women subjects such botany, astronomy, Latin, and algebra, while requiring them to attend chapel services and Bible studies. Some alumnae became missionaries in China, Turkey, and South Africa. The American poet Emily Dickinson attended for a year.

Game Changer

Gamechurch is seizing opportunities to reach the gaming community

By Angela Lu

(WNS)--On a hot July afternoon, young people in bright wigs and elaborately hand-sewn costumes filled the Los Angeles Convention Center. For one weekend, Japanese anime characters came to life as 60,000 participants at the annual Anime Expo primped and posed as characters they had painstakingly recreated.

Outside the center, bright yellow signs bobbed with the messages "The Wages of Sin Is Death" and "Eternal Life in Jesus" as a Hispanic man shouted into a loudspeaker. Most people passed by without a glance, as one man wearing a T-shirt with the image of a marijuana leaf held up his own homemade sign that read "God is a LIE." Inside, though, anime devotees crowded around a booth with a blown-up image of Jesus holding an Xbox controller.

That Gamechurch booth, sandwiched between others selling Pokemon toys and big-eyed anime posters, featured volunteers telling each passerby that Jesus loves them just the way they are, dyed-pink hair and kitten ears included. Gamechurch is a ministry reaching gamers right where they are by attending "nerd culture" conventions and running a video game news website. At Anime Expo, its volunteers passed out lanyards with the words "Jesus loves gamers" in block letters and more than 2,000 "gamer bibles" (the book of John with gamer-aimed commentary) that delve deeper into the gospel message.

Christians now have a small piece of a $21 billion video game industry that caters to tens of millions of Americans: The average age of gamers is 31, and nearly half are women. The games themselves cover a wide range: Not just relegated to first-person shooters or role-playing fantasies, a new crop of empathy games artfully tell interactive stories about difficult topics like depression, autism, and poverty. They are big business: Grand Theft Auto V, a raunchy crime-riddled game, cost a reported $265 million to make, and took in $1 billion in merely three days.

Many churchgoers have a negative view of video games; too violent and too sexual, which many are. But video games have as much variety as movies, which few Christians now boycott, and each highly involved game displays a worldview. Christian gamers see video games as opportunities for parents to bond with their children and for Christians to bond with nonbelievers. At Gamechurch's Anime Expo booth, most people were curious and inquisitive, some saying that even though they don't agree with Christianity, they appreciate what Gamechurch is doing. Some signed up for email updates in exchange for a poster of Jesus stylized like a warrior from the film 300.

A few passersby snickered but none expressed hostility. "How do you argue with 'Jesus loves you' and free stuff?" asked Chris Gwaltney, Gamechurch's missions coordinator. "He loves you right now, you don't have to shower first." Founder Mikee Bridges, a former alt-Christian rocker who went on to open a skate park, PC gaming center, and now Gamechurch, believes the group is planting seeds at these conventions: One young man emailed to say he read the "gamer bible" on the airplane ride home, gave it to the person sitting next to him who seemed interested, and was emailing Gamechurch to ask for another copy.

Gamechurch also aims to minister to people through the context of relationship–in this case the camaraderie built from fighting monsters or protecting each other from enemy fire. Online multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft group strangers together to fight battles, and Brian Buffon, director of Gamechurch, said the time spent together in the game builds trust so that when a teammate goes through a difficult time such as a breakup, they can turn to him for support, creating an opening to talk.

Christian video game developers have been trying to bring Christ into the industry—mostly to tap the large Christian market—since the 1990s, often by ripping off popular games and adding a biblical twist with titles such as Spiritual Warfare, the Left Behind series, and even Dance Praise. But with the rise of indie developers, more Christian developers have the freedom to create games that aren't as overtly Christian, but are intertwined with a Christian worldview.

For instance, developer Ryan Green has created a buzz in the past year with his game That Dragon, Cancer, an autobiographical empathy game that follows Green as he deals with his son Joel's losing battle with cancer from age 1 to age 5. Green started creating the game with developer Josh Larson two years ago as an artistic way to sort out his feelings. In one level of the game, players take on Green's point of view and find themselves inside of an ICU hospital room with a crying son in the crib, unable to be consoled. Through words on the screen and voice-overs, players hear the thoughts of helplessness running through Green's mind, until the only option left is to sit down and pray—and the crying finally stops.

Reviewers from secular publications who tested the early demo of That Dragon, Cancer, praised the game, many leaving with tears in their eyes as they recalled loved ones they'd seen in that position. Green wrote that as a Christian game developer he had "the power to limit choice, to bend the player's knee in prayer, to create a black and white world in which the pillars of faith can be crammed down their throat in megabyte-sized chunks. If I did that, then I would not be much like the one person in history I desire to emulate."

Millennial Writes a Parent's Guide to the Evangelical Left

By Joseph Slife

(WNS)--What does "evangelical" mean in 2014? The rise of the so-called evangelical left—a movement catching on with many younger Christians—has blurred the picture. Chelsen Vicari says the evangelical left is twisting the gospel. She is the author of a book released this week, published by Frontline. The title is Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel and Damaging the Faith. I spoke with Vicari, who serves in Washington, D.C., as the director of evangelical action for The Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Let's address the doctrinal question first. Do people on the evangelical left still believe in sin and salvation, in the work of Christ, in the resurrection, in those touchstones of the faith? I'm sure many of them do. When I say "the evangelical left," I'm really talking about those within the church who are pushing a political, leftist agenda cloaked in Christianity. And when I say "cloaked in Christianity," I mean using the Bible and twisting it to justify a leftist political agenda that actually goes against what Scripture talks about in many ways, for example, marriage, and life, and liberty.

How much does the issue of homosexuality have to do with the evangelical left? It is arguably the biggest, most hostile issue millennial Christians are faced with. Whenever we talk about same-sex relationships, we are either labeled as bigoted or uncompassionate, or we're dismissed if we hold a view of marriage that is between one man and one woman. As a Sunday school teacher, I see it first hand. I have kids who are really smart, really outgoing, who will talk about any awkward or complex issue. They're just eager to learn. But whenever I talk about the same-sex issue, they clam up. They get incredibly quiet because at school or in public they are being taught to either agree or to be quiet. So this is an issue that we've got to start talking about. We cannot give in when it comes to the same-sex issue, which is what millennials are struggling with. That is probably the biggest issue that they are faced with whenever they talk about their faith.

Now, you are a twenty-something, but this book is not written to millennials and teenagers but to older folks. Why? I wrote it to my parents, in many ways. When I was fighting with my parents about reconciling unorthodox teaching with the Bible, they didn't understand the authors I was reading or the speakers who were having a big influence on me. All they knew was that I was going to this Christian campus and coming back with untruths. I write to the grown-ups in the room so that you can understand who's influencing your millennials, what's being taught, and how you can address it.

The final section of your book is titled "Preventing the collapse." It sounds like you think there is hope for shoring up what seems to be an increasingly shaky situation. I absolutely believe that we can have revival, not just in the evangelical community but the church at large. But to do that, it's going to start within our homes. It's going to start by teaching our children exactly what Scripture says and how to defend it. Oftentimes the millennials are willing to compromise because, honestly, they don't know enough about their faith to speak up about it. That's what happened to me. So, first, we have to start teaching in our homes and living out our faith. We have to pray for revival, and we have to pray for courage to be able to speak up on behalf of Christ.

Andrew Klavan Hired to Write Script for Gosnell

By Sophia Lee

(WNS)--The producers of the movie about convicted killer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell have hired bestselling and award-winning novelist and screenwriter Andrew Klavan to write its screenplay.

The hire is the latest gutsy move for the team behind Gosnell, which broke records by raising the most money—about $2.1 million with the help of almost 27,000 donors—at Indiegogo, a crowdfunding website.

Husband-and-wife filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, along with Magda Segieda, decided to make a film about Gosnell because they believed nobody else in liberal-leaning Hollywood would. They call Gosnell "America's biggest serial killer"— but he's also one of the least known. The Gosnell case caused much ire and disgust within pro-life and conservative circles, but barely sparked interest from mainstream media.

During the crowdfunding phase, the filmmakers sent out press releases to several writers, and Klavan was one of them. He shot a response back "within seconds," calling the project "the best story I've ever heard for a movie" and a "stroke of genius." But over the next few weeks, Klavan started thinking he would actually be a good candidate to write the script—after all, he is a crime and thriller writer, whose novel True Crime was made into a movie starring and directed by Clint Eastwood. He's also a brassy conservative who doesn't mince words about Hollywood's liberal takeover of popular culture, penning several controversial columns and opinion pieces on the subject.

Klavan told me as the Gosnell trial was unfolding, he was most "appalled" by the barren media section at the courtroom: "I thought, 'How is that possible? What were they thinking?' I really followed the press' responsibility at the time. ... That seems to be the core of the story: it's really this almost conspiracy of silence—not just the press, but the state and local officials as well."
That "wall of silence" is the angle Klavan will be pursuing while writing the script.

"There's always going to be evil people like Gosnell," he said. "But they only thrive when regular, decent, normal people work to protect them."

Given the grisly nature of Gosnell's crime, Klavan said he is most concerned about keeping the movie compelling without "torturing" the audience on the gruesome baby-killing details. Instead, he plans to highlight the courage of individual investigators and reporters who uncovered the horrors going on in Gosnell's facility. His previous experience as a local reporter covering crime should lend some interesting perspective as well.

The crowdfunding success for Gosnell clearly indicates public interest—but will it also draw interest from people outside the pro-life community? Can a movie accomplish what the media couldn't? Klavan said he doesn't want to "hammer" propaganda over viewers, but let the truth reveal itself through good storytelling: "One of my long-standing subjects is the need to be able to tell the truth ... and if you can't, then you should change your mind."

Missionaries Who Beat Ebola Speak Out as Another Doctor is Diagnosed

By Andrew Branch

(WNS)--North Carolina-based missions group SIM identified a third American diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia, even as survivors Nancy Writebol and Kent Brantly began to tell their stories.

During a Sept. 3news conference, SIM USA President Bruce Johnson told reporters in Charlotte, N.C., the latest victim is 51-year-old Dr. Rick Sacra. Once SIM's Liberia director and the ELWA hospital medical director, Sacra now heads a residency program training new Liberian doctors in family medicine.

He volunteered to return to Liberia from his Boston, Mass., home when his colleagues—Brantly and Writebol—fell ill while serving at ELWA. Sacra was delivering babies in a supposedly Ebola-free general hospital and obstetrics unit when he fell ill.

Johnson told reporters they do not know how Sacra was exposed to the virus, because he followed protective protocols even in the Ebola-free portion of the hospital. Ebola is transmitted through contact with a sick person's bodily fluids. While they're exploring all options, Johnson said, they are not planning just yet to evacuate Sacra to the United States.

Sacra is in good spirits, and talking on his cell phone with his wife, Debbie, who is in the United States. He and his wife knew the risks when he returned to the country.

"It does not dampen our resolve and our commitment to serve the people of Liberia and to attack this Ebola epidemic," Johnson said. "Our faith compels us."

Johnson and Will Elphick, SIM's Liberia director, described one of ELWA's Ebola units as a converted kitchen and laundry area that is "over capacity." But they painted a much brighter picture than Doctors Without Borders President Joanne Liu did on Tuesday. More than 1,500 hundred people have died in the outbreak, and Liu told a United Nations panel her overwhelmed Ebola centers have become units where people go to die alone with little more than palliative care.

Doctors Without Borders helps run one of the isolation units on the ELWA campus, which has at least 150 Ebola beds in total. But Johnson proudly reported that even as Sacra tested positive Monday, they discharged 12 people who had recovered. Sacra himself, in his last Facebook post before his illness, praised God for eight recoveries on Wednesday and Thursday.

That was some heartening news, Johnson said, to add to the first public celebration of Nancy Writebol's recovery. Writebol, 59, was privately discharged from Atlanta's Emory University Hospital on Aug. 19 and had not spoken to the media until Wednesday.

There were many days when she thought she would not survive, especially the day she was evacuated from Liberia, half-delirious and loaded onto the plane via a baggage conveyor belt, she told reporters. What she does remember, though, is her faith.

"The Lord came near and said, 'Am I enough?'" she recalled. "And my response was, 'Yes, Lord, you are enough.'"

Doctors originally thought she had malaria but tested her for Ebola anyway. When her husband came home to her bed and told her she and Brantly had Ebola, he stepped forward to embrace her. Although her heart sank, she said, she had to put her hands up and stop him.

But Wednesday as the couple addressed the media for half an hour, a beaming David Writebol told reporters that they are humbled God has "chosen us" to tell a story of God's grace in Ebola. "I am so very thankful that this beautiful woman is still with me," he said, drawing shy smiles from his wife.

"Really, this is not our story," Nancy Writebol said. "It is God's story. God is writing this."
The Writebols and Brantly expressed continued concern for the Ebola crisis, gratified their experiences could highlight the situation and encourage others to meet the growing shortage of aid and aid workers. Brantly issued a short statement Aug. 21 upon his release from Emory University Hospital. He and his wife spoke to NBC on Tuesday in their first interview about their experience.

Brantly said he is still weak, but recovering strength daily. There were times he thought he would die, shaking violently, nearly unable to breath, and knowing doctors in Liberia had no equipment to breath for him. Brantly, his wife Amber, and their two children are staying in Asheville, N.C., where he can recover in private. He said they are thinking about Sacra as he wages his own battle with the disease.

"I was notified about [Sacra] this morning," Brantly said Tuesday. "I spent a good long while tearful, in prayer."

Federal Judge: Louisiana Has a Right to Ban Gay Marriage

(WNS)--A federal judge in New Orleans became the first in the nation to uphold traditional marriage laws on Sept. 3, ruling Louisiana has a right to regulate marriage as it sees fit.

Louisiana bans same-sex marriage and does not recognize such unions formed in other states. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said the couples challenging the laws failed to prove they violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection or due process provisions. The couples also argued the state's laws violate the First Amendment because they can't file joint tax returns, which would allow them to access federal tax deductions.

The state's attorneys argued that last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act upheld state's rights when it comes to defining marriage.
Feldman agreed. As in all the other successful challenges to state marriage laws, the gay couples argued the DOMA ruling declared all same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.

The ruling breaks a string of more than 20 decisions in favor of gay couples suing for the right to marry in all 50 states. Nineteen states already recognize same-sex marriage. Supporters of traditional marriage are focusing their arguments in legal challenges on the state's rights issue. Rulings in favor of gay marriage have overturned voter-approved laws upholding traditional marriage.

The Louisiana couples, represented by Forum on Equality, plan to appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Traditional Marriage Laws Fall in Two More States

(WNS)--A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously struck down traditional marriage provisions in Wisconsin and Indiana today. A constitutional amendment approved in 2006 by voters limited marriage in Wisconsin to heterosexual couples, while state law did the same in Indiana. Neither state recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states.

During oral arguments in August, Ronald Reagan appointee Judge Richard Posner said bans on same-sex marriage amounted to "hate" and "savage discrimination." Posner continued his extreme language in the court's opinion on the case, stating, "homosexuals are among the most stigmatized, misunderstood, and discriminated-against minorities in the history of the world."

The 7th Circuit is the third federal appeals court to reverse state laws on marriage.

The first federal appeals court ruling on same-sex marriage came in June, when a panel of judges from 10th Circuit ruled 2-1 against Utah's constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman. The same court issued a similar ruling against an Oklahoma constitutional amendment. The 4th Circuit followed suit last month when it overturned bans on same-sex marriage in Virginia.

Decisions in other circuits were put on hold pending review by the Supreme Court, but the 7th Circuit declined to issue a stay of its decision. That makes the immediate future of same-sex marriage in Indiana and Wisconsin unclear. "We're in a little bit of a holding pattern for a couple weeks," said Scott McDonnell, the Dane County Clerk in Madison, Wisc., who had married gay couples after that state's law was initially struck down by a federal judge.

Louisiana Abortionists Can Practice Without Hospital Support, For Now

By Courtney Crandell

(WNS)--A federal judge on Aug. 30 temporarily blocked enforcement of a Louisiana law that requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Three of the state's five abortion facilities filed suit, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

The law requires all Louisiana abortionists to obtain admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their respective facilities. Violators risk losing their licenses and a $4,000 fine. The restraining order allows abortionists to continue to practice while they seek admitting privileges. District Judge John deGravelles said he will hold a conference in 30 days to evaluate the progress toward obtaining admitting privileges and set a court date for his ruling on a preliminary injunction.

Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life (LARTL), said he respected the fairness of deGravelles' decision. "Prompt implementation of HB 388 will allow Louisiana to raise the standard of care in Louisiana abortion facilities sooner rather than later," he said. "While any delay of the law is a setback to that goal, we believe Judge deGravelles' limited decision was a fair one."

But the extent of the restraining order is up for debate. Kyle Duncan, representing state Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert, said the ruling only applies to the three plaintiffs in the suit. As of Sept. 1, CRR spokeswoman Jennifer R. Miller said the organization is still analyzing the decision.

Pro-life advocates have recently passed admitting privilege laws in five states: Wisconsin, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana. Each of the laws ended up in court. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to lift a temporary injunction against Wisconsin's law. Both Mississippi's and Alabama's laws were struck down earlier this year. A federal appeals judge ruled in July that Mississippi's law unconstitutionally restricted the right to abortion by forcing women out of state. In August, a district judge struck down Alabama's admitting privileges law, which would have shut down three of the state's five abortion facilities.

But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which also holds jurisdiction over Louisiana, upheld Texas' admitting privileges law in March. There, even though women would have to drive farther to access facilities, the judges ruled the law didn't place an "undue burden" on the right to an abortion. The court also ruled that abortionists with pending admitting privileges could continue to practice, setting a precedent for the suit against Louisiana's law.

State defendants initially proposed that abortionists with pending privileges be allowed to practice, part of a failed effort to reach a compromise last week, LARTL said in a statement. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals agreed prior to Sunday's decision that it would abide by the 5th Circuit's ruling. But CCR sought a full temporary restraining order. When the two parties failed to reach an agreement, deGravelles issued his order. "Judge deGravelles, in a fair manner, simply applied the 5th Circuit's logic in his decision," Clapper said.

In the suit, CRR argued the law would effectively shut down all five facilities and failed to provide sufficient time for abortionists to obtain admitting privileges, Reuters reported. CRR also claims that rather than seeking to protect women, the law is a subversive means to block all abortion access in Louisiana. But in his ruling, deGravelles said CRR has yet to prove the breadth of the law's effect.

"Because the applications of the doctors have not been acted upon at this time, the Court believes any undue burden that might occur if they were denied is speculative," he wrote in his opinion. "While the doctors point to some preliminary indications that their applications may not be granted, the Court finds this evidence insufficient to carry their burden."

NATIONAL BRIEFS

Homeschool Leader Disavows "Patriarchy"

(WNS)--Longtime homeschool attorney and advocate Michael P. Farris, who founded the Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983 and founded Patrick Henry College in 2000, issued a public statement Aug. 27 distancing himself from "patriarchy." Specifically, he criticized the teachings of two leaders formerly popular among homeschoolers, Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard, who both recently stepped down from ministries amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Phillips, an attorney himself, worked with Farris at HSLDA for six years. He went on to launch The Vision Forum Inc. and Vision Forum Ministries with his wife Beall. Last year, Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum Ministries after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a young woman. The ministry closed soon after.

Is Common Core Losing the Public Perception Test?

(WNS)--The education standards called Common Core have been adopted in more than 40 states, but according to a Phi Delta Kappa (PDK)/Gallup poll released in August, the majority of Americans oppose them. By the end of 2012, all but a handful of states had adopted Common Core. But the 2013 PDK/Gallup poll showed 62 percent of Americans had never heard of the standards already in place. Public awareness has grown since then, and so has public concern. Eighty-one percent of poll participants this year had "heard at least a little" about Common Core, and 60 percent said they don't want it in their classrooms.

California: All Health Insurance Must Cover Abortion

(WNS)--Health insurance companies in California may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions, state insurance officials have ruled. The decision is a reversal of policy stemming from the decision by two Catholic universities not to fund elective abortions through their employee health plans. Although the federal Affordable Care Act does not compel employers to provide workers with health insurance that includes abortion coverage, California's Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) Director Michelle Rouillard said in a letter to seven insurance companies on Friday that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. Rouillard said her department had "erroneously approved or did not object" to a small number of health insurance policies that excluded abortions.

Doctors Studying 17 U.S. Kids Born Using Three-Parent IVF Process

(WNS)--A New Jersey fertility clinic is investigating the health of 17 teenagers it helped to conceive more than 15 years ago using a controversial and rare IVF procedure involving three parents, according to the British journal The Independent. The IVF procedure, called cytoplasmic transfer, involves mixing genetic material from two women and one man. In 1996, the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science (IRMS) at Saint Barnabas Medical Centre in New Jersey started performing cytoplasmic transfer for women who were infertile because of genetic defects. In 1997, the process resulted in the world's first "three-parent" embryo. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the procedure in 2002. Until now, no follow-up research has been done on any of the approximately 30 infants worldwide conceived using the process.

INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

Cuba Cracks Down on Christians

(WNS)--Cuba's communist government has increased its oppression of religious institutions, according to a Christian watchdog group, with reports of religious liberty violations almost doubling in the last six months. According to a new report from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), there were 170 religious freedom violations from the start of 2014 through mid-July. In 2013, there were only 180 incidents documented. This year's violations included government authorities beating pastors and lay workers, dragging politically dissident women away from Sunday services, and enforcing arbitrary detentions, church closures, and demolitions, CSW said. Since 1959, the Cuban government has planted informants within churches and religious groups to report anything critical of the state or deemed "counter-revolutionary."

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World Report, Week 32, 2014

Written by WMCN Editor on . Posted in World

 WORLD News Service – August 22 2014

Ebola Patients Released: Doctors at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital declare two American missionaries cured of Ebola

Florida Judge Strikes Down Marriage Amendment

NYC Recruits Clergy to Avoid Another Ferguson: Mayor meets with religious leaders after an African-American man dies in a police chokehold

World News, Week 31, 2014

Written by WMCN Editor on . Posted in World

WORLD News Service – August 15 2014

Mars Hill Church Cancels Resurgence Conference: Cancellation caps eventful week at besieged church

Family-Owned Pharmacy Leans on Hobby Lobby Ruling for Support
Family Pleads for Detained American’s Release from North Korea

Tennessee Judge Issues First Ruling in Favor of Traditional Marriage

New Nonprofit Exemption to Contraceptive Mandate Coming Soon

Who Will Get to Decide Definition of Marriage?

World News, Week 30, 2014

Written by WMCN Editor on . Posted in World

WORLD News Service – August 8 2014

Ebola-Stricken Doctor Improving: As Kent Brantly gives thanks for people praying for his recovery, massive challenges remain in West Africa for combating the deadly disease

Appeals Court Saves Last Mississippi Abortion Center from Closure

4th Circuit: Virginia Gay Marriage Ban an “Impermissible Infringement”

Six Marriage Cases at the 6th Circuit

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