World News, Week 27, 2014

Written by WMCN Editor on . Posted in World

WORLD News Service – July 18 2014

Plan to Overturn Hobby Lobby Ruling Stalls Although they didn’t have enough support to bring the measure to the floor, 56 senators voted to force employers to pay for abortifacients

Will Sociologists be Brave Enough to Study Same-Sex Divorce?

Hobby Lobby Critics Target Green Family’s Bible-based Projects

Judge Rules Florida Same-Sex Couples Can Marry in the Keys

The Big Bang’s Big Problem Bedevils Researchers

Christian College Loses City Contract Over Biblical Teachings About Sexuality

Will More Funding Help California’s Foster Kids?

Dutch Official Pleads with Britain to Keep Euthanasia Illegal

Court Rules for Christian College in Transgender Dispute

Texas Church Takes in Chinese Refugees

Senate Democrats Try to Kill State Pro-life Laws

Government Survey: Gay Population Smaller Than Previously Thought

NATIONAL BRIEFS

 

INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

 

                                                                                                                                   

Plan to Overturn Hobby Lobby Ruling Stalls

 

Although they didn’t have enough support to bring the measure to the floor, 56 senators voted to force employers to pay for abortifacients

By J.C. Derrick

(WNS)--A bipartisan attempt to overturn the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision has failed—for now.

The Senate on Wednesday afternoon fell short of the 60 votes needed to move forward with the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act, in a 56-43 vote on bringing the measure to the floor. The bill would have overruled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—the law the Supreme Court cited when it ruled the federal government cannot force a family-owned business to provide contraceptive coverage that goes against its religious beliefs.

The bill also would have required employers to cover all forms of contraception and other healthcare mandated in the Affordable Care Act, regardless of conscience objections.

“The federal government doesn’t have the right to force Americans to violate their faith,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., who voted against bringing the measure to the floor for consideration. “The bill put forward by Senate Democrats is nothing more than a political charade, designed to falsely suggest to the American people that employers can deny their employees access to birth control.”

It wasn’t only Democrats who supported a floor vote for the bill: Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska., joined 51 Democrats and two independents to try to move the legislation forward. For procedural reasons, just before the vote closed, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., changed his vote, which leaves the door open for reconsidering the bill at a later date.

Supporters cast the legislation as a “fix” for the ruling they said ran counter to the original intent of RFRA, which received overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

“The court’s decision in Hobby Lobby was an unprecedented move allowing employers to use their religious beliefs to deny their employees a benefit that they are guaranteed by federal law to receive,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s Washington legislative office. “A small number of senators chose politics over women’s health today.”

Republicans have introduced legislation that would “clarify” the high court’s decision, noting it didn’t prevent anyone from accessing any kind of birth control, including abortifacient drugs—despite Democratic claims.

Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., have introduced companion legislation in the House, but it is expected to go nowhere in the Republican-controlled chamber.

House Republicans have excoriated Senate Democrats for not moving faster to take up legislation, but in this case, the Senate showed it is capable of moving at remarkable speed. After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties on June 30, Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Mark Udall, D-Colo., unveiled their legislative response on July 9. Only one week, later the Senate voted on cloture (a procedural move to end debate).

“Senate Democrats and a few wayward Republicans just voted against religious freedom for their constituents and all Americans,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Women Speak Out PAC, a partner of the Susan B. Anthony List. “This bill would pave the way for taxpayer funding of almost all abortions as ‘preventive services.’”

Democrats, who also call the bill the “Not My Boss’ Business Act,” hope to turn the Hobby Lobby decision into a campaign issue in the midterm elections, furthering their “war on women” narrative against Republicans.

Dannenfelser said her organization will use Wednesday’s vote to expose the “extreme abortion position” of several Democrats up for reelection this fall in conservative states: Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. The Washington Post's current predictions suggest Landrieu and Pryor will lose.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said lawmakers have much more pressing issues they should be focused on: “The world is falling apart, along with the U.S. economy, and yet Senate Democratic leaders think the future of the free world hinges on employers being forced—under the threat of crippling fines—to provide drugs that have the potential to kill an unborn child.”

President Barack Obama gave his strong support to the bill before the vote.

Will Sociologists be Brave Enough to Study Same-Sex Divorce?

 

By Kiley Crossland

(WNS)--A judge in Indiana granted the state’s first same-sex divorce earlier this month.

The divorce concludes a six-year legal battle between the couple, Angela Summers and Melanie Davis, and the state, as Indiana claimed it could not grant the same-sex couple a divorce because it does not recognize same-sex marriage. Other states with traditional marriage laws are facing similar battles as residents who entered into same-sex marriages in other states want to divorce in their home state.

At the time of their marriage, Melanie Davis was David Summers, a man, according to a USA Today article. Monroe Circuit Judge Valeri Haughton first ruled that she could not divorce the couple because according to Indiana’s laws, the couple’s marriage was voided when Davis legally became a woman. But the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the judge’s ruling, saying the marriage was legally between a man and a woman when it began and therefore could be dissolved. Haughton granted the divorce in early July.

Research on rates of divorce among same-sex couples is preliminary, and some sociologists warn more research will be stunted by a growing stigma associated with sociologists who raise questions that counter the gay agenda.

Often-cited research released in 2011 said the rate of same-sex couples divorcing in the United States is slightly lower than the rate of heterosexual couples, according to a study released by the Williams Institute. Some argue that the comparison is skewed by the fact that gay marriage is a recent development in the United States.

But studies looking at same-sex divorce in northern Europe, where same-sex unions have been legal for two decades, conclude same-sex relationships dissolve more often than heterosexual relationships, said Jason Richwine, a former policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, in an article for National Review.

He points to three studies from Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and England. After controlling for age, region, country of birth, education, and duration of partnership, Richwine says the Scandinavian study found that out of 1,500 same-sex unions, “male couples in Sweden were 35 percent more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples, and lesbian partners were over 200 percent more likely to divorce. Whether the couples had children made little difference in the relative rates.”

Though the United States seems ripe for more research as marriage laws evolve, Steven Hayward from the American Enterprise Institute argued in an article for Power Line blog that solid scientific studies might be hard to come by.

Citing the witch hunt against Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin whose research on children in same-sex marriage households has been dismissed and denounced by the “liberal establishment,” Hayward said he has a hunch about the future of research into same-sex divorce: “Social science research into gay marriage will be discouraged, when it is not suppressed or demonized because any findings that might deviate from the current triumphalism will be politically incorrect. … This will become another area marked off-limits.”

Hobby Lobby Critics Target Green Family’s Bible-based Projects

 

By Andrew Branch

(WNS)--In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby in its fight with the government over the contraceptive mandate, critics in the media and atheist groups have zeroed in on the Green family’s plans for a Bible museum and public school curriculum.

Some cheered Wednesday when editors at the nonprofit Museum of the Bible announced that a Bible elective in an Oklahoma school district will be postponed until at least January. Steve Green, Hobby Lobby’s president, has been a proponent of teaching the Bible in public high schools nationwide.

“This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught,” Green said last year to the National Bible Association, announcing his plan for the high school course. " There are lessons from the past that we can learn from, the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it, and if we don’t know it, our future is going to be very scary.”

The Green family has been using its $3 billion-plus net worth since 2009 to obtain biblical manuscripts and artifacts for a planned museum. The Museum of the Bible now has 40,000 items, the world’s largest private collection. Its exhibits have traveled around the United States and Israel. But the Greens’ want a permanent museum in Washington, D.C., and hope to roll out a government-approved Bible course in schools by 2017.

The public Mustang School District near Hobby Lobby’s Oklahoma headquarters was set to beta-test part of the curriculum this fall. But Jerry Pattengale, editor for the four-year course, cited “unforeseen delays” for pushing the launch back a semester. It’s not clear whether the postponement came from increased publicity—and criticism—following the Supreme Court ruling. 

More than 200 pages of the curriculum’s first year course have been made public. Atheist groups claim it’s unconstitutional. Some of the criticisms include leading questions like, “How do we know the Bible is historically reliable?” rather than, “Is the Bible historically reliable?” Other accusations seem to equate the term “reliable historical document” with promoting biblical inerrancy. 

The Supreme Court ruled in 1963 that Bible courses can be “presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation decries the Greens’ efforts, implicitly arguing that only non-believers can be objective. 

Pattengale has acknowledged some of the course’s criticisms, and editors have worked to correct some “overreaching.” The museum board also changed its mission statement from “to inspire confidence in the absolute authority and reliability of the Bible” to a less-pointed “to invite people to engage with the Bible.” 

City officials in Washington, D.C., are likely to approve the final museum design by the end of the month, The New York Times reports. Two blocks from the national mall, it will replace the Washington Design Center, an eight-story structure from the 1920s the public is ready to see renovated. The Green family bought the building in 2012 for $50 million. Final renovations and the artifact collections could put the museum’s total price tag at $800 million.

Judge rules Florida same-sex couples can marry in the Keys

(WNS)--A county judge in the Florida Keys ruled July 17 that same-sex couples could marry in his jurisdiction starting next week. Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia agreed with plaintiffs who argued Florida’s voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman treats gay couples as second-class citizens. Florida voters approved the ban on same-sex marriage in 2008. Attorney General Pam Bondi said the state of Florida, as opposed to individual counties, has sole authority to define marriage in the state.

The Florida ruling puts couples in the Keys in a similar position to those in parts of Colorado, where a county clerks have been issuing marriage licenses to gay couples despite an in-place state ban on same-sex marriage. Colorado differs slightly because a federal judge there has already ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional and stayed the ruling pending appeal.

The Big Bang’s Big Problem Bedevils Researchers

 

By Julie Borg

(WNS)--If the Big Bang theory is correct, our universe should not exist, according to research published last month by physicists at King’s College in London. The shocking discovery implies the universe should have collapsed less than a second after it exploded into existence.

Christians are divided on whether or not the Big Bang theory fits with the biblical description of creation. But the theory has been an enormous concession for many secular scientists. For years they clung to belief in a universe that was steady and that had existed indefinitely. But recent advances in physics have forced most scientists to admit that the universe had a beginning and that it has been expanding ever since by a process dubbed cosmic inflation. 

For Christians, the universe having a beginning point is no new discovery. These scientists were upstaged more than 2,500 years ago by Job, Moses, David, and other Bible authors, said Hugh Ross, astrophysicist and founder of the Reasons to Believe ministry. The Bible confirms explicitly and repeatedly the two most fundamental properties of the Big Bang theory: There was a definite, finite beginning and the universe is undergoing continual expansion. For example, said Ross, in Isaiah 42:5 both properties were declared: “This is what the Lord says—He who created the heavens and stretched them out.”

The researchers of the current study combined data from observations made possible by the BICEP2 telescope with new information developed from the discovery of the Higgs Boson, a particle thought to be responsible for the mass of everything that exists. The scientists said the universe lies in a valley of the Higgs Field, an energy field that exists throughout the universe. It contains the Higgs Boson particle and sets the limits on its behavior. The universe is prevented from entering an even deeper valley by a large energy barrier that can be thought of as a giant hill separating the two valleys. But, according to the Big Bang theory, the researchers say cosmic inflation would have kicked the universe over the hill and into the deeper valley where it would have collapsed in less than a second. 

Bewildered secular scientists are scratching their heads at the new findings. “We have to extend our theories to explain why this didn’t happen,” said Robert Hogan, a doctoral student at King’s College who led the study, in the Royal Astronomical Society. The researchers conclude there must be some process yet undiscovered.

Someday the scientists seeking explanations of why there was no big collapse immediately after the universe came into existence may well have to contend with the concept of a creator. 

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream,” said Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a self-proclaimed agnostic. “He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” 

Christian College Loses City Contract Over Biblical Teachings About Sexuality

 

By Sarah Padbury

(WNS)--A Massachusetts Christian college is facing a backlash for supporting religious exemptions to a proposed presidential order that would add sexuality to the anti-bias policy applied to all federal contractors.

The mayor of Salem, Mass., ended Gordon College’s contract to operate the city-owned Old Town Hall this week when the school’s president, along with 13 other religious leaders, signed a public letter to President Barack Obama asking him to include a religious exemption from a new executive order expected to require all federal contractors and subcontractors to hire LGBT persons, regardless of the organization’s religious stance on homosexuality.

White House officials announced in June that Obama planned to sign the executive order, although no details have been released. The president does not have the authority to extend the order to all employers, but he can take unilateral action that affects federal contractors and subcontractors, which make up nearly one-quarter of the US workforce, according to The Boston Globe. Religious leaders worry the order could drive faith-based organizations out of federally contracted work, including disaster relief, janitorial service, technology support, adoption assistance, preschool education, and prison ministry.

The order also may affect colleges that use federal funding for student financial aid. Gordon College, located just south of Salem in Wenham, is a Christian university that requires its employees and students to follow biblical “behavior expectations,” including not tolerating “homosexual practice.”

Gordon President Michael Lindsay signed the letter to Obama, as did a broad group of Christian leaders, including Q Ideas President Gabe Lyons, Catholic Charities CEO Larry Snyder, Center for Justice CEO Stephanie Summers, and well-known pastors Rick Warren and Joel C. Hunter. The July 1 letter followed a June 25 letter signed by more than 150 conservative religious groups and leaders, including many major evangelical associations.

Michael Wear, who served as the national faith vote director for the Obama 2012 campaign, helped write the letter. He told The Boston Globe the letter’s intent is to find a way to protect LGBT rights, but also assure religious organizations that hire “according to their religious identity” will not automatically be disqualified from competing for federal contracts.

But for Gordon College, consequences for signing the request began just days after the letter went public. Salem Mayor Kimberly Driscoll exercised an early termination option in the city’s contract with the school to operate Old Town Hall. Since 2008, the school has been contracted to maintain, operate, and assist in the preservation and improvement of the historic building, according to its website.

“I am truly disappointed in the stance you have taken, which plainly discriminates against the rights of LGBT individuals, both on and off campus,” said Driscoll in a letter to Lindsay posted on the city’s website. “These actions fly in the face of the City of Salem’s non-discrimination ordinance, which prohibits our municipality from contracting with entities that maintain discriminatory practices.”

The school’s Facebook page has become a battleground between alumni and students who oppose the school’s stance on homosexuality, and those who support it. Some students are organizing a White House letter campaign of their own—in support of requiring Christian colleges to hire LGBT people.

Lindsay posted a letter on the school’s website July 8, apologizing for the confusion and hurt feelings caused by his actions.

“My sole intention in signing this letter was to affirm the college’s support of the underlying issue of religious liberty, including the right of faith-based institutions to set and adhere to standards which derive from our shared framework of faith, and which we all have chosen to embrace as members of the Gordon community,” Lindsay said.

Will more funding help California’s foster kids?

 

By Emily Scheie

(WNS)--In an interview posted on YouTube by Courageous Connection, a California nonprofit organization for foster youth, Anthony talks about his five placements, three schools, and four years in foster care. Many foster children come from homes marked by neglect and abuse, and many move from house to house with no place to truly call home.

“I was just getting drug around like a piece of paper… just a blank piece of paper basically,” Anthony says in the video.

Foster students have the lowest graduation rate of all of the at-risk student groups in California, according to a 2013 study by WestEd, a nonprofit research agency. California is home to almost one-fifth of U.S. foster children, and the California government will now include them, along with students from low-income families and students learning English, in a funding program designed to improve their school performance.

Statistics show only 58 percent of 12th graders in foster care graduate, compared to 84 percent of California youth overall. Foster youth lag in language arts, performing similar to English learners and students with disabilities, and have the lowest math proficiency rate of all of the at-risk subgroups.

In attempt to confront the low performance of students in foster care, California is designating funds to foster students through a program called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Districts will receive money based on how many low-income, English learning, and foster-care students they have. The Los Angeles Unified School District has designated $9.9 million to hire 92 guidance counselors, behavior specialists, and other positions to help foster students.

Molly Dunn, a lawyer from the LA-based Alliance for Children’s Rights, supports the new state policy: “That’s only right because these are our kids, the state’s kids, and they are doing the worst.” But Mike Jones, a former high-school science teacher and current executive director of Courageous Connection, doubts how much of an effect the large amounts of money will actually have. “You can’t fund love or doing the right thing,” he told me.

Jones, who works one-on-one with high-school foster kids in the Elk Grove Unified School District, talked about how they are so used to being ignored and invisible that they want to be recognized as individuals with unique needs. Sometimes it means helping them get simple things like a bus pass, yearbook, or prom dress. State funds won’t buy those things, but they help the foster youth get up and go to school in the morning.

“Each individual kid needs to be looked at and understood,” Jones said. More money won’t necessarily fix the problem, he said, because “you can’t pay someone to care.”

Dutch Official Pleads with Britain to Keep Euthanasia Illegal

 

By Andrew Branch

(WNS)--Less than six weeks after Quebec legalized euthanasia, Britain’s House of Lords is considering its own euthanasia endorsement. Brought by Lord Falconer, the Assisted Dying Bill would allow doctors to administer poison to terminally ill patients given less than six months to live. Lawmakers will debate the measure during a second reading Friday.

But the bill won’t pass without a fight. Bioethicist Theo Boer, once a supporter of euthanasia in the Netherlands, the world suicide capital for 12 years, told the chamber last week the evidence shows he “was wrong, terribly wrong.”

Boer, who sits on a Dutch government committee that reviews all euthanasia cases, said his native country may top 6,000 assisted suicides this year. In comments reprinted by The Daily Mail, Boer pleaded with parliamentarians, “Don’t do it, Britain.” The very existence of a euthanasia law seems to be “an invitation to see assisted suicide and euthanasia as a normality instead of a last resort,” he said.

The practice has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002, and Boer was a vocal supporter in 2007 as numbers stabilized at roughly 2,000 euthanasia deaths per year. His colleagues believed they had achieved the regulatory balance that, as American abortion supporters say, made the practice safe, legal, and rare.

But the yearly numbers have more than doubled. Today, nearly 1 in 7 deaths in the Netherlands happens at doctors’ hands. At least 3 percent of deaths come by direct euthanasia, The Daily Mail reports, and another 12 percent come from passive euthanasia, when a person is sedated and starved to death.

Boer cited a rapid increase in doctors killing the mentally ill, the depressed, and the lonely elderly. The Dutch have also authorized traveling euthanasia units, morbid house calls that bypass doctors with knowledge of the pressures or motives behind a patient’s suicide decision.

Pressure from relatives or fears of being a burden are documented factors people give for choosing euthanasia in the Netherlands. “Not even the review committees, despite hard and conscientious work, have been able to halt these developments,” Boer said. The professor of ethics, bioethics, and theological ethics at Utrecht University and Protestant Theological University, said euthanasia “is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.”

Britain’s Dignity in Dying group claims Boer’s concerns are invalid because the proposed law is limited to the terminally ill. A similar law in the U.S. state of Oregon “has been working safely for over 17 years” and still only applies to the terminally ill, a spokesman told The Daily Mail.

But Boer says activists won’t rest until lethal pills are freely available to anyone over 70. And back in Oregon, some Medicaid patients have received letters implying the program wouldn’t pay for life-prolonging treatments prescribed by their doctors, but would pay for lethal prescriptions. “Some slopes truly are slippery,” Boer said.

The slopes are already well-greased in Britain. The British Supreme Court in June upheld the current euthanasia ban, but a majority of judges suggested Parliament change the law. Furthermore, judges ruled a ban is likely “incompatible” with Europe’s human rights law. Activists told the Guardian they’re looking forward to further court rulings, and they’re disappointed the Falconer bill only covers the terminally ill. They are “the lucky ones,” one activist said.

 

Court Rules for Christian College in Transgender Dispute

 

By Lynde Langdon

(WNS)--A Christian university in Oregon can keep the rooming restrictions it has placed on a transgendered student, without risking any penalty from the federal government. The U.S. Department of Education granted George Fox University a religious exemption from Title IX, which prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex.

George Fox is a private, Christian university, but does receive some federal funding. In April, a student referred to in legal documents as Jayce M. filed a discrimination complaint against George Fox for not allowing him to live in an on-campus apartment with other men. Jayce was born female and registered as such when first admitted to George Fox. Last Spring, Jayce completed the legal process of reassigning his gender from female to male, although he hadn’t at that time had any operations to change his anatomy.

Because student housing at George Fox is single-gender, campus officials proposed Jayce live alone on-campus for the upcoming school year. Campus officials said they spent hours meeting with Jayce to work out a solution. With the help of Portland attorney Paul Southwick, who is also an LGBT activist and a George Fox alumnus, Jayce filed the discrimination complaint and launched an online petition to pressure the university to honor his housing request. As of Wednesday, the petition had more than 21,000 signatures.

“George Fox sought a Title IX exemption to protect it from being forced to act in a manner inconsistent with the university’s religious convictions,” university officials said in a statement. “That exemption was granted in May 2014. The complaint was closed without action. George Fox never received the complaint nor received official confirmation of its dismissal.”

The statement from George Fox pointed out the uncertainty among educators and regulators about how Title IX applies to transgender students. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) ruled in April that Title IX protections extend to students who could be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity as well as biological sex. But it’s not clear how the OCR will enforce that rule. Will universities be required to let males who identify themselves as females play on women’s sports teams? “OCR has failed to explain what its new interpretation of Title IX actually requires,” George Fox officials said.

The website Inside Higher Ed reported that another transgender rights case in which Southwick was involved was recently resolved in favor of California Baptist University. That university rescinded the 2011 acceptance of a male student who applied as a female. According to Inside Higher Ed, last week a California judge ruled the university had the right to expel the student, but not to ban the student from campus.

Texas Church Takes in Chinese Refugees

 

By Ryan Hill

(WNS)--On July 4, while Americans launched bottle rockets and grilled burgers to celebrate their liberty, a Chinese court fined Christian pastor Zhang Shaojie more than $16,000 and sentenced him to 12 years in prison for disturbing the public order. Local officials first detained him and more than 20 members of his state-sanctioned church in November.

Shaojie lost his liberty in a land where believers disappear into extrajudicial “black jails” and soldiers protect state employees who tear down crosses and demolish churches. But this week, his daughter found sanctuary at a church in Midland, Texas.  

Zhang Huixin, along with her husband and 18-month-old daughter, landed Tuesday morning at the Midland airport, 330 miles west of Dallas. Members of the 3,000-person First Baptist Church Midland greeted the couple and child with songs at 10:30 a.m. as they stepped off the plane. In June, Chinese officials blocked the young parents from flying out of Beijing to the United States. With the help of ChinaAid, a Midland-based ministry, they fled the country through an underground network. 

The week of her father’s first arrest, Huixin received anonymous phone calls from people threatening to wipe out her entire family, and local officials held her overnight for interrogation. In April, after an unsuccessful visa appointment, security guards at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing forced her and her infant from the building. 

First Baptist moved Huixin and her family into one of the church’s guest homes, where they will stay as long as they need to, probably at least 6 months, said Pastor Randel Everett. They are sharing the space with a Chinese human rights lawyer who fled from China to Midland several weeks ago after defending Shaojie in court. Everett withheld the lawyer’s name to protect him, but said, “We call him Edward. … I actually had the privilege of baptizing him.” 

In addition to taking English lessons, Edward has offered to help the church however possible. “I’ll even mop floors if you want me to,” he told Everett. His presence as a fellow countryman in the home with Huixin and her family will be a service of its own. For now, a language barrier may keep the couple from full participation in the First Baptist community, but Everett said the baby would enjoy the church preschool program. 

God has a way of drawing persecuted Christians to Midland. Everett recently met an Ethiopian Christian, Getaneh M. Getaneh, who heads a Midland ministry that focuses on praying for oppressed followers of Jesus around the world. Getaneh suffered persecution decades ago at the hands of Ethiopian Communists, who hanged him upside-down and poured boiling oil over his body. Before reaching Midland, Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, spent time in prison with his wife for leading a Chinese house church. 

“For these two very prominent Christians who have escaped persecution to be living in Midland, Texas—it’s either an awfully strange coincidence or it’s just in God’s providence,” Everett said.

Next month, Everett will step down as First Baptist’s pastor to launch the Wilberforce Institute, a national network of churches committed to imitating Jesus’ ministry in Luke 4:18—good news for the poor, sight for the blind, freedom for prisoners and the oppressed.

“I never wanted to leave the security of a wonderful pastorate like here to start something new, and I’m almost 65 years of age, but it’s been a God thing,” he told WORLD. “It was one of those situations my wife and I couldn’t avoid. We either had to do this or we would be disobedient.”

Senate Democrats Try to Kill State Pro-life Laws

 

By Rikki Elizabeth Stinnette

(WNS)--North Carolina gynecologist Monique Chireau called a nearby abortion center after one of her patients came to her with a perforation in her uterus from a botched, late-term abortion. When Chireau asked the abortionist about the incident, he told her he knew about his mistake but didn’t want to send the patient to the emergency room.

“That’s really malpractice,” Chireau said.

Chireau was one of several panelists and lawmakers at a Tuesday Judiciary Committee hearing who condemned the bill proposed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., that would overturn pro-life state legislation limiting abortion.

Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, challenged the senators to bring the bill to the Senate floor so the American voters would know where its lawmakers stand. She also encouraged them to vote on a bill from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that would ban abortion after 20 weeks.

“Let the American people see which bill reflects the values of each member of the United States Senate,” Tobias said.

Tobias added that Blumenthal’s bill, called the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013, is really bad advertising. Instead, it should be called the “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth Act.”

Blumenthal introduced his bill in November in response to what he called a “cascading avalanche” of state restrictions that lead to abortion center closings.

Among other things, the bill would overturn state laws requiring abortion centers to have admitting privileges to a local hospital. If Blumenthal’s bill became law, women would not be required to view ultrasounds of their unborn babies or have a waiting period before having an abortion, reversing two decades of successful pro-life efforts on the state level.

This year alone, states have already enacted 21 abortion restrictions. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute said recent pro-life advances threaten abortion centers in Texas and Mississippi—but this might all change if Blumenthal’s bill becomes law.

Members of Congress at the committee hearing sharply questioned how the bill would protect women.

“This bill is a weak political opportunity before the midterm elections,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “In reality, the bill disregards popular and common-sense laws.” He predicted the American people would never support the legislation.

Others suggested the bill threatens state freedom. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, asked the committee if it could name any other time the government has forbidden states to pass legislation about a certain category of activities: “Why is abortion so unique that Congress has this authority in this area but not in any other?” No one answered.

Panelist Willie Parker, an abortionist who flies from Chicago to work at Mississippi’s last abortion center, said the facility could close if courts do not overturn a state law passed last year requiring abortionists and abortion centers to register for admitting privileges at a local hospital. Parker applied for admitting privileges to 13 hospitals only to be turned down.

Admitting requirements are necessary for patient safety, Chireau said, based on her experience as a gynecologist. Many abortion centers that cannot get hospital privileges are kept out because they have dangerous practices. “If you are caring for a patient, you need to be responsible for that patient,” she said.

While the entirety of the Judiciary Committee’s Democrat majority co-sponsored this bill, only one Democrat besides Blumenthal arrived to ask questions of the panelists. The rest who attended the hearing, all Republicans, criticized the measure. Even if Democrats get enough votes to pass it in the Senate, the law has no chance of getting past the Republican-dominated House.

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., spoke as a panelist about her experiences as a former nurse. She held up an ultrasound picture of her grandson three months before he was born, saying that abortion is not like any medical operation: “Abortion is brutal to both the mother and the child. It is not healthcare.”

 

 

Government Survey: Gay Population Smaller Than Previously Thought

 

By Rachel Lynn Aldrich

(WNS)--Less than 4 percent of the U.S. population identifies as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, a surprisingly small number given the outsized influence they have had on the nation’s cultural and legal landscape.

Based on 2013 data collected by the government in The National Health Interview Survey, 1.6 percent of adults identify as gay or lesbian and 0.7 percent identify as bisexual. The numbers were lower than earlier approximations, which placed gay and lesbians at closer to 3 percent of the population. More than 96 percent identified as straight, and 1.1 percent did not provide an answer or said they were “something else,” or “I don’t know the answer.”

This is the first time since its inception 57 years ago that the NHIS has included sexual orientation in its questions. The survey documented many of the setbacks and disparities faced by individuals who identified as something other than heterosexual. The survey was considered a victory by members of the LGBT community and an important step for understanding health needs. But the results didn’t paint a rosy picture.

“We saw some differences by sexual orientation, but there is no clear overall pattern,” Brian Ward, lead author of the report and a health statistician for the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, told HealthDay News. “You can’t say gay, lesbians and bisexuals have poorer health overall.”

The report he authored, however, implies differently. “Across most of these outcomes [health conditions, health behaviors, and healthcare access], sexual minorities tend to fare worse than their non-minority counterparts,” the report summarized.

The survey found most respondents who identified as homosexual or bisexual were between 18 and 44. They were least likely to be over 65, implying a shorter lifespan. 

The survey found bisexual women were more likely to experience psychological stress (10.8 percent compared to 4.5 percent). Adults who identified as homosexual or bisexual were more likely to binge drink or smoke. But gay men were less likely to be obese than straight ones.

The survey was based on interviews with 34,557 people, making it a large-scale statistical sampling. Due to the small percentage of those who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, researchers say the health statistics for that group are somewhat unreliable. 

 

NATIONAL BRIEFS

Gay Marriage Passes First Appeals Court Test

 

(WNS)--A federal appeals court declared Utah’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in the first appellate ruling on state marriage laws as the issue makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided the issue by a 2-1 vote, with Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. dissenting.  “We should resist the temptation to become philosopher-kings, imposing our views under the guise of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Kelly wrote in the dissenting opinion. The 14th Amendment guarantees all persons equal protection under the law. The 10th Circuit includes Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. All of those states except New Mexico also have bans on same-sex marriage. The decision will not take effect immediately because the court stayed its ruling until the nation’s highest court can consider the case.

Democrats Unveil Legislation to Overturn Hobby Lobby Ruling

(WNS)--Barely a week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal government cannot force closely held corporations to pay for employees’ abortifacient drugs in violation of their religious beliefs, Senate Democrats on Wednesday announced legislation to reverse the Hobby Lobby decision. “After five justices decided last week that an employer’s personal views can interfere with women’s access to essential health services, we in Congress need to act quickly to right this wrong,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who crafted the legislation with Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.  The Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act would override the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—legislation that passed the House unanimously, passed the Senate 97-3, and was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993. The new bill would require most for-profit businesses to provide health insurance covering all forms of contraception mandated in the Affordable Care Act, regardless of religious objections. It would exempt houses of worship and some religious nonprofit organizations.

Nonprofits Win Contraceptive Mandate Reprieve

 

(WNS)--Right before the July 4 holiday weekend, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a significant order that escaped much notice: It granted Wheaton College, the best known evangelical Christian university, an emergency injunction against the contraceptive mandate. Injunctions from the Supreme Court are quite rare, and this injunction established a pattern for all other nonprofits seeking injunctions while their cases are pending. Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a dissent called the order “as rare as it is extreme.”

Colorado Traditional Marriage Law Latest to Fall

(WNS)--A state judge in Denver overturned Colorado’s traditional marriage law in early July, but he put same-sex marriages on hold pending an appeal. Judge C. Scott Crabtree said the state’s voter-approved ban “bears no rational relationship to any conceivable government interest.”  Attorney General John Suthers plans to appeal, but a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals already staked its position on the issue when it ruled last month on Utah’s marriage case. Utah officials announced yesterday they plan to take their appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, rather than asking the full 10th Circuit to rehear its arguments.

 

Episcopalians in South Carolina Take Their $500 Million Property Fight to Court

(WNS)--About 50 churches from the Diocese of South Carolina went to court in July in an attempt to keep their name, seal, and $500 million in property following their split with The Episcopal Church (TEC). “At no point in our history has the national church contributed financially to the building or maintenance of any of our church buildings, facilities, or ministries,” said the Rev. Ken Weldon, rector of St. John’s Church in Florence. South Carolina’s withdrawal is the most recent in an exodus of members and congregations from TEC in recent years. The denomination has spent millions of dollars fighting individual congregations to keep buildings and property.

INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

                 

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Author: WMCN EditorWebsite: http://MannaMedia.org
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The West Michigan Christian News desires to glorify God while providing global, national, and local news to the West Michigan community. The West Michigan Christian News is a non-denominational, Christ-centered, advertiser-supported monthly newspaper published in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Manna Media Inc. It is unabashedly biased in its Christian presentation of news and views. It is also dedicated to the promotion of Christian unity by focusing on the 95 percent of the Christian faith on which all Christians agree while refusing to get drawn into controversies about the 5 percent on which we might differ.

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