World Report, Week 25, 2014

Written by WMCN Editor on . Posted in World

WORLD News Service – June 27 2014

Historic Leave-Taking

Pro-lifers Win Supreme Court Buffer Zone Case: Justices unanimously strike down a Massachusetts law creating bubbles of ‘protection’ around abortion centers

Conservatives Lobby for Religious Exemptions in LGBT Anti-Bias Policy

Georgia Republican Set to Lead Party’s Conservative Caucus

Colorado Christian University Wins Contraceptive Mandate Reprieve

Petition Urges Air Force Academy to Honor Religious Liberty

New Mexico Scientists Fight Taxpayer-Funded Evolution Celebration

Popular Financial Guru Charged with Defrauding Christians

Feds Open Taxpayer-Funded Insurance to Sex Change Surgery

Childish Tendencies: A window into the self-absorbed hipster, Obvious Child is painful to watch

NATIONAL BRIEFS

 

INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

 

                                                                                                                                   

 

Historic Leave-Taking

 

By Scott Lamb & Paula R. Kincaid

(WNS)--The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)–in a move long expected but nonetheless momentous for the 1.8-million-member denomination, the nation’s sixth largest—approved full endorsement of same-sex marriage with passage of two overtures on June 19.

First, the commissioners voted to approve an Authoritative Interpretation of the constitution, giving PCUSA pastors discretion to conduct same-sex ceremonies in states where the practice is legal. The results were not close: 371 (61 percent) to 238 (39 percent). This action goes into effect immediately.

Next, the assembly approved an amendment to the Book of Order, changing the definition of marriage from “a woman and a man” to “two people.” This vote was even more lopsided: 429 (71 percent) to 175 (29 percent). The amendment now goes out to the denomination’s 172 presbyteries for ratification, a process that normally takes a year.

Coming after a long period of debate on the floor of the Assembly and an even longer period of debate within the denomination, the historic nature of the vote was not lost on participants and observers alike. 

During the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the 1920s and 1930s, Princeton Seminary professor J. Gresham Machen wrote in his book Christianity and Liberalism: “We would not indeed obscure the difference which divides us from Rome. The gulf is indeed profound. But profound as it is, it seems almost trifling compared to the abyss which stands between us and many ministers of our own Church. The Church of Rome may represent a perversion of the Christian religion; but naturalistic liberalism is not Christianity at all.”

As Donald Fortson, professor of church history at Reformed Theological Seminary wrote in response to the General Assembly’s June decision, “These words penned almost a century ago are a fitting summation of what transpired last week.” 

Machen’s warnings against liberalism culminated in his suspension from Presbyterian ministry in 1936, which led to the formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He led the founding of Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929. Later turning points came with the PCUSA’s “Confession of 1967,” which said, “The Scriptures, given under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are nevertheless the words of men, conditioned by the language, thought forms, and literary fashions of the places and times at which they were written. … The church, therefore, has an obligation to approach the Scriptures with literary and historical understanding.”

Alarmed by the new view of Scripture, the Presbyterian Lay Committee (PLC) formed to sound a warning, and—refused advertising space in denominational periodicals—bought full-page ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, protesting the “obscure language” making it “possible to rationalize almost any point of view the reader seeks to establish.”

After the vote in Detroit, the PLC board published a “letter of repudiation,” calling the PCUSA decision “an abomination.” They urged Presbyterians to voice dissent and refuse to financially support the denomination. “We have arrived at the place where the original members of the Lay Committee warned about,” current PLC president Carmen Fowler LaBerge said. “The PCUSA has set itself as an authority above the Scriptures in determining for herself what is and what is not sin. She has sided with those who want the liberty to live as they so choose and in so doing, she has set herself in opposition to the revealed will of the Holy God.”

The PCUSA has lost over 500 congregations since 2007. The decision in Detroit is likely to escalate the rate of exits, leaving the General Assembly perhaps devoid of conservative voices to oppose further flights from orthodoxy.

Laymen and political leaders took note too. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., spoke against the same-sex marriage endorsement as “a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church USA” in a June 24 speech on the House floor. 

“I feel increasingly alienated from this rich faith tradition, which includes John Witherspoon, the only active clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence,” Wolf noted. “It has long been clear that our culture is in the throes of a seismic shift on this issue,” he said, “But perhaps most troubling is that increasingly this is happening within the church itself, which has historically served a bulwark against the cultural whims of the day.”

Pro-lifers Win Supreme Court Buffer Zone Case

 

Justices unanimously strike down a Massachusetts law creating bubbles of ‘protection’ around abortion centers

By Emily Belz

(WNS)--The U.S. Supreme Court spoke plainly and unanimously in striking down a Massachusetts law placing a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion centers: The law “violates the First Amendment.” The zone excluded anyone but abortion center employees and clients.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the decision for the court, refused to describe buffer zones in general as unconstitutional, leaving an earlier Supreme Court decision upholding buffer zones in place for now. Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito wrote concurring opinions arguing that buffer zones should be declared unconstitutional altogether.

Even in the January arguments, the lawyer for the pro-life counselor challenging the law did not ask the court to overturn its own precedent—but he probably hoped they would anyway.

Roberts kept the ruling limited to the Massachusetts law but called into question any buffer zone laws that restrict access to public areas. He said public areas and sidewalks have special protection under the First Amendment.

“It is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas,” he wrote in the unanimous opinion. “Even today, they remain one of the few places where a speaker can be confident that he is not simply preaching to the choir. With respect to other means of communication, an individual confronted with an uncomfortable message can always turn the page, change the channel, or leave the website. Not so on public streets and sidewalks.”

The opinion said the Massachusetts law, passed in 2007, burdened pro-life counselors’ speech because they did not want to yell at the women they were trying to counsel. And at such a distance from the centers, counselors could not distinguish passersby from those heading to the center. At one center, women seeking abortions could park within the buffer zone, and never encounter the counselors. The court suggested a number of “less restrictive alternatives” Massachusetts could adopt to ensure safe access to abortion centers while preserving free speech, like passing a law along the lines of an existing federal statute that forbids obstruction of abortion centers. Roberts tried to clarify that the court was not giving constitutional approval to the suggested alternatives.

Though the ruling was unanimous in striking the law, Scalia wrote a concurrence that sounded a lot like a dissent, saying Roberts’ reasoning was alternately “feeble” and “fanciful,” and the majority “specious.”

“Today’s opinion carries forward this court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents,” he wrote, in a concurrence that Thomas and Kennedy joined. “This is an opinion that has something for everyone, and the more significant portion continues the onward march of abortion-speech-only jurisprudence.”

Scalia is referring to a large section of Roberts’ opinion where the chief justice argues the buffer zone law is “content-neutral”—not targeting a certain group’s speech—and therefore is not subject to strict scrutiny, the toughest legal standard. If a buffer zone law were subject to strict scrutiny, all buffer zone laws likely would fall as unconstitutional. Roberts’ opinion dodged that broader ruling.

“Every objective indication shows that the provision’s primary purpose is to restrict speech that opposes abortion,” Scalia said.

The opinion leaves murky the status of other buffer zone laws. A case is pending in Wisconsin on the issue, and New Hampshire recently passed a 25-foot buffer zone law. What the unanimous court made clear Thursday is that such laws cannot restrict access to public streets and sidewalks. 

 

Conservatives Lobby for Religious Exemptions in LGBT Anti-Bias Policy

 

By Andrew Branch

(WNS)--Rather than fight President Barack Obama’s planned executive order against LGBT bias in the workplace, religious conservatives are rallying to persuade him to include an exemption for religious employers.

“We want it to be on record,” said Stanley Carlson-Thies, president of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, which is circulating a petition that now has 140 co-signers. “We want to give him the opportunity to do the right thing.”

Obama announced June 16 he would ban federal contractors from discriminating because of sexual orientation or gender identity. The convictions of religious business owners aside, faith-based organizations with contracts include adoption agencies, disaster relief groups, and drug and prison ministries. The order is a response to House inaction on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which the Senate passed in November. ENDA would apply to most businesses, with religious exemptions that fail to satisfy many conservatives.

But even ENDA’s exemptions—let alone those of the still-undrafted executive order—are convoluted. The looming U.S. Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby’s challenge to Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate could provide some clarification. But even with a favorable decision for Hobby Lobby, an Obama order codifying LGBT conduct as equal to issues like race could affect future court decisions, Carlson-Thies told me. Motivated by that worldview, the government has a compelling interest to prevent injustice over any religious claim.

The uncertainty has conservative groups concerned. American Family Association President Tim Wildmon warned that existing civil rights orders require affirmative action for protected groups. But most conservatives are waiting to see what the order says before they take decisive action. LGBT lobbyists have told conservatives their reservations are unfounded. Fred Sainz, with the Human Rights Campaign, told the Christian Post religious liberty concerns are “premature” without seeing a draft of the order.

But a wait-and-see approach is certainly not the stance LGBT activists are taking. Interfaith Alliance President C. Welton Gaddy looked forward to “working with the president” to ensure “religion should never be legitimated as a license to discriminate.” 

Despite soft-pedaling the issue to the Christian Post, Sainz made his group’s intent clear to LGBT newspaper The Washington Blade. “We believe that when taxpayer funds are being used, the federal government should prevent discrimination,” he said. “LGBT workers should be treated the same as other categories already protected by the existing executive order.” Those are race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Former President George W. Bush clarified rules for religious contractors, allowing them to hire based on their religion and mission. Obama’s order could remove the Bush exemption or encode a contradiction that leaves the courts to decide whether religion can include sexual conduct.

While LGBT activists are lobbying for the order, powerful congressional Republicans have been mostly silent. Only Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has demanded the same religious protections provided in ENDA. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had no comment for the Huffington Post. “Cultural conservatives appear to be fighting the battle without the help of elected Republicans,” the Post crowed.

That’s why some groups have decided to directly petition the White House. Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, called on the president to include ENDA-like protections. Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, asked Obama to drop the executive order altogether. In the only collective effort, Carlson-Thies is compiling signatures from faith-based organizations, pastors, and constitutional law experts to shed light on what’s at stake.

Disaster relief organization Catholic Relief Services, for example, had more than $230 million in U.S. government grants and contracts in 2013 and $350 million in 2011. The Department of Health and Human Services has already refused to contract with Catholic groups not willing to provide contraception or abortion counseling, Jesuit analyst Thomas Reese said. Funding revocations at the state level over LGBT issues have led dioceses to shutter adoption services in at least four states since 2006. “It would be really impossible to replace many of these Catholic organizations with new secular ones,” Stephen Schneck of The Catholic University of America told Reese.

Carlson-Thies told me Obama is waiting to hear whether he will get pushback, and conservatives should not confirm his agenda by silence: “It’s not a letter approving an executive order, but it’s just saying if there is an executive order, it should have very strong religious freedom protections.”

The letter asks for ENDA-like protections for religious organizations’ conduct and preservation of Bush’s exemption. And given the big-picture precedent the order sets, Carlson-Thies wants Obama to clarify that LGBT conduct does not trump religious freedom. “At the end of the day, we have no idea whether the president will listen—take some of our advice, none of it, a little bit of it,” Carlson-Thies said. “But I think when we have an opening to speak up, it’s incumbent on us to speak up and not let the opportunity pass by.”

Colorado Christian University Wins Contraceptive Mandate Reprieve

 

By Rachel Lynn Aldrich

(WNS)--Colorado Christian University scored a victory for religious liberty last week, winning a preliminary injunction from a Denver federal judge against the government’s contraceptive mandate. The ruling prevents the Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing provisions of Obamacare that require the school to offer contraceptives that could induce abortions. 

“It’s a terrific victory,” said school President William Armstrong. “It’s a huge victory for us, but more importantly, it’s a victory for the cause for religious freedom.”

The judge determined the mandate, which required the school to provide Plan B (the so-called “morning after” pill) and Ella (the “week after” pill), infringed on the private university’s freedom of religion, noting that if CCU either did not provide health insurance to its employees, or “did not include the coverages required by the mandate, CCU would be subject to significant—if not ruinous—financial penalties.” 

The penalties would have amounted to millions of dollars in annual fines, beginning July 1.

The judge concluded that the pressure to violate the school’s religious beliefs violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, according to the Beckett Fund, which supported CCU’s case. 

“We are rejoicing,” Armstrong said. “We’re praising the Lord and thanking the Beckett Fund and thankful that we live in a country where the courts can protect us against these kind of things.” 

Armstrong noted that while a final injunction may be waiting on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which he “earnestly hoped” turned out in the Christian-owned craft chain’s favor, he fully expected to receive the injunction either way. CCU’s case is significantly different from Hobby Lobby’s, because it is a religious institution while Hobby Lobby is a for-profit business. The high court is expected to rule on the Hobby Lobby case tomorrow, or Monday at the latest.

“This is an important win for religious liberty,” said Beckett Fund attorney Eric Baxter, who represents CCU in its case. “A university like CCU, whose employees and students share its religious convictions concerning the sanctity of life, should not be forced against its beliefs to distribute drugs that it deems to be morally wrong.”

Petition Urges Air Force Academy to Honor Religious Liberty

 

By Kristen Eicher

(WNS)--The Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition teamed up with the Family Research Council on Wednesday to deliver a petition with 105,000 signatures to the Air Force Academy seeking to have First Amendment freedoms, particularly religious liberty, restored to its cadets.

Religious freedom and the First Amendment have been a source of recent conflict at the Academy. In 2011, administrators issued an apology for mentioning the organization Operation Christmas Child. Most recently, in March of this year, a cadet leader voluntarily removed a Bible verse from the whiteboard on his dorm room door after someone complained to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson. The verse, Galatians 12:20 reads, “I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

The petition delivered Wednesday directly relates to the Bible verse controversy. It voices concern about the culture of fear produced by eradicating religion and any other source of discomfort. “If cadets are taught to be afraid of Bible verses, how will they respond against terrorists who are willing to die for their cause?” the petition asks.

Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of an organization devoted to strictly limiting religion in the military, argued that the presence of the Bible verse “pours fundamentalist Christian gasoline” on an Air Force Academy religious culture he believes is “raging out of control.”

But Lt. Gen. (Rt.) Jerry Boykin, Family Research Council’s executive vice president, disagrees. He wants the religious problems within the Academy sorted out in a way that benefits the cadets to prevent further damage. “The Academy’s recent actions and policy pronouncements, unless quickly corrected, will continue to chill speech among cadets, harm morale, and create unnecessary confusion,” he said.

Lawmakers in Congress have not remained silent on the issue. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., praised the petition.

“We need this kind of resounding effort by the American people echoing that message to the Air Force,” he said. “I believe we will make progress on this issue, and the efforts of citizens speaking out are playing a leading role in that fight.”

Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, believes the petition speaks for many people in the military worried about their First Amendment rights. “To remove a Bible verse from that whiteboard that the cadet would want to put on there is something that is seriously concerning,” he said. 

The petition shows people outside the military also support the ability of soldiers to freely express their religion while in uniform, Boykin said. With the more than 100,00 signatures, the American people “have spoken out loudly against such efforts to suppress speech and belief,” Boykin said.

Georgia Republican Set to Lead Party’s Conservative Caucus

 

By Ryan Hill

(WNS)-- If Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is swinging a sword against government spending with his 2015 budget proposal, which boasts total cuts of $5.1 trillion, Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., must be holding a chainsaw. In April, Woodall crafted another GOP budget plan with Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., that would reduce federal spending by $7.4 trillion.

Woodall’s plan debuted when Scalise served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a 176-member caucus of conservative House Republicans. Woodall currently leads the RSC’s Budget and Spending Task Force, but with the recent chain reaction of Republican succession, he is almost certain to land in Scalise’s former shoes, at least for a few months.

After challenger David Brat took House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by surprise in the Virginia Republican primary, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., won a June 19 party election to become the new majority leader. Scalise then emerged victorious from a three-way race to replace McCarthy as majority whip. When he takes office on Aug. 1, the RSC will have a hole in its leadership.

Scalise was prepared to appoint Woodall as the RSC’s interim chairman this Wednesday, but committee members opted to wait two weeks for a formal vote. They hesitated out of respect for procedure rather than scruples about Woodall.

“I’m very glad that my friend and fellow Georgian will take the helm of the RSC during this transition period,” said Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga. “He’s a strong conservative and will provide the steady leadership the organization needs in the coming months.” Graves lost to Scalise in the 2012 contest for RSC chairman.

Woodall awaits election on July 9 to become temporary head and caretaker of the RSC. He will defer to a new full-time chairman serving the standard two-year term after a second round of elections in November.

Of all the items on his legislative agenda, Woodall is “most passionate” about the FairTax bill. First introduced to the House in 1999 by former Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., the act has languished in Congress for 15 years. It would abolish the income tax, disband the IRS, and apply a 23 percent consumer tax to all new purchased goods and services.

This month, Woodall introduced a House bill with Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., to rein in franking, the Congressional mailing privilege that cost nearly $8 million in taxpayer funds last year.

Woodall began his political career in 1994, dropping out of law school at the University of Georgia to become a legislative correspondent for Linder. He finished his law degree in 1998 and was promoted to Linder’s chief of staff in 2000.

“Rob Woodall is a very thoughtful, upbeat, and knowledgeable member of Congress and is particularly well versed on spending issues,” said Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.

New Mexico Scientists Fight Taxpayer-Funded Evolution Celebration

 

By Dick Peterson

(WNS)--Two New Mexico scientists hope next year’s Darwin Days celebration at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science may evolve into a more civilized affair. If their challenge to the state’s use of its publicly funded institution and taxpayer money to denigrate religion and promote atheism can gain traction with state officials, media, and the public, the event could include talks on intelligent design and creation.

A flier promoting Darwin Days at the museum in February listed New Mexicans for Science & Reason, Humanist Society of New Mexico, and Freedom From Religion, Albuquerque as museum co-sponsors, stoking the anger of James Campbell and Michael Edenburn. “It is my understanding that the religion clauses of the First Amendment require that states ‘pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion,’” Campbell wrote in a letter to the governor of New Mexico on Feb. 3.“Is it appropriate for a state-funded museum to join forces with organizations such as the Humanist Society and the Freedom From Religion group to promote an anti-religious agenda?”

Four days later, a letter from the Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico State Department of Cultural Affairs assured Campbell the apparent collaboration was a misunderstanding. But sensing a coverup, Campbell and Edenburn attended the Darwin Days lectures, found them to be true to their billing, and submitted a Freedom of Information request for emails and documents produced in planning the Darwin Days celebration of the birth and life of evolutionist Charles Darwin.

The documents showed the museum actively solicited and recruited pro-evolution atheist groups to help plan its 2014 Darwin Day events and made no attempt to involve religious groups or those skeptical of Darwinian evolution. The museum worked closely with atheists to plan the Darwin Day events that included anti-religious lectures and attacks against intelligent design and creationism. And once Campbell filed his inquiry with the governor’s office, the planning team attempted to cover up the collaborations and offered false information about what really happened, the scientists said.

“The emails showed a clear participation between museum staff and atheist groups in planning the presentations given on Feb. 12,” Edenburn said. “I am angry because a public institution in New Mexico used taxpayer money to plan and promote an event that denigrated religion. This is wrong and should not be allowed to continue.” 

Edenburn said he and Campbell sent press packets to 11 major news outlets in New Mexico informing them of the issue, but have yet to spark any interest. The two have a scheduled meeting with the museum staff July 2. It’s the only response from the governor’s office since the two sent a letter detailing the museum’s participation in selecting the talks and speakers.

“I would like to urge everyone to keep in touch with Darwin Day programs offered by state institutions,” Edenburn said. “Challenge them if they participate in viewpoint discrimination or programs that promote anti-religious or atheistic views.”

 

Popular Financial Guru Charged with Defrauding Christians

 

By Rachel Lynn Aldrich

(WNS)--A former financial advisor who allegedly defrauded megachurch parishioners out of more than $11 million was arrested and indicted June 17 by a federal grand jury. Ephren Taylor, 31, and business partner Wendy Connor are charged with conspiracy and multiple counts of fraud. 

Taylor, former CEO of City Capital Corporation, and Connor are accused of swindling churchgoers across the country, often by convincing them to make fraudulent investments in small businesses, and using their money to pay personal expenses. Between April 2009 and October 2010, the two defrauded hundreds of investors out of millions of dollars, according to prosecutors. Taylor traveled across the country giving “Building Wealth Tour” seminars at churches, telling investors a portion of their profits went to charity. 

According to ABC News, the Department of Justice reported more than 80 people from Georgia alone “lost more than $2 million because of Taylor’s scheme.” Investors included congregants from Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., and Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston.

Prosecutors also said Taylor pushed investments in sweepstakes machines loaded with games allowing players to win cash prizes, telling victims they would generate 300 percent returns. He claimed the machines were 100 percent risk-free. Accusations also include convincing victims to use self-directed IRAs to make investments, then using their money to pay business expenses, personal expenses, and returns to other investors. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint in April 2012 accusing Taylor and Connor of defrauding investors out of more than $11 million. A federal judge ordered City Capital to hand over nearly $15 million in profits, interest, and civil penalties.

Taylor’s attorney, Jane Bruno, said her client surrendered to authorities after learning of the indictment and is anxious to address the charges. 

Cathy Lerman, a Florida attorney representing some of Taylor’s alleged victims, said she is pursuing third parties and has been after Taylor since 2007, although she had no idea how large the case would become. 

“As a lawyer with 30 years of experience, this is the first time I’ve ever had to talk clients out of committing suicide,” Lerman said. Dozens of clients have faced foreclosure and unexpected medical bills after losing their life savings and unwittingly destroying their families’ financial stability, she said.

Joann White, 67, from Belleville, Mich., is one of Lerman’s clients. She saw Taylor on television talking about his book, and invested in what she thought was a laundry service run by college students and an alternative fuel source gas station. Instead, her retirement savings vanished and her family almost became homeless because they couldn’t pay their mortgage. 

Feds Open Taxpayer-Funded Insurance to Sex Change Surgery

 

By Andrew Branch

(WNS)--Taxpayers could soon be paying for federal employees’ sex reassignment surgeries after the Office of Personnel Management lifted its ban on insurance coverage for the procedures.

The June 13 directive surfaced quietly as a letter to insurance providers, citing an “evolving professional consensus” on whether the surgery is “medically necessary.” Carriers of Federal Employee Health Benefits plans have until June 30 to decide whether to change their policies regarding the procedures, which can cost up to $50,000.

The bureaucratic change came just two weeks after the Department of Health and Human Services authorized Medicare to cover the same surgeries. For men, they can involve castration and genital reconstruction. For women, they can involve mastectomy and the implantation of a prosthetic.

LGBT activists praised the ruling, but some argued that giving providers a choice isn’t good enough. “We think it’s illegal sex discrimination if they exclude care for trans people that they allow other people to have,” said Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. Failing to cover the procedures, Keisling and other activists say, would be at odds with executive orders that attempt to rewrite anti-discrimination laws.

President Barack Obama touted his administration’s continued activism Tuesday before 550 supporters at a Democratic National Committee gala for LGBT donors. The raucous crowd gave the president a standing ovation for a new executive order banning anti-LGBT bias among federal contractors. “Sometimes you guys were a little impatient,” Obama said. “Sometimes I had to say, ‘Will you guys just settle down a bit?’”

Obama proclaimed June 2014 “LGBT Pride Month,” and as it passes the halfway mark, LGBT activists are moving to silence opposition. The Wall Street Journal came under fire for publishing a June 12 op-ed criticizing the transgender movement. “Policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment, and prevention,” wrote Paul McHugh, a former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

McHugh has long protested sex reassignment surgery as a treatment for transgender feelings, successfully shutting down the Johns Hopkins Gender Program in the 1970s. He likens the surgery to performing liposuction on an anorexic girl who thinks she is obese.

Data show up to 80 percent of people who profess transgender feelings—especially children—will change their minds, McHugh said. He advocates “devoted parenting,” not growth-stunting and puberty-delaying hormone treatments that come “close to child abuse.” Furthermore, he writes, post-surgery transexuals have suicide rates 20 times that of non-transgender people.

GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis accused the Journal of rejecting “best practices” for reporting on transgendered people. “They are sacrificing accuracy and integrity," Ellis said. LGBT activists are quick to dismiss McHugh for his Roman Catholic faith and his disagreement with colleagues at the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, which support sex reassignment surgery.

The heart of the issue, though, is that of worldview, McHugh said. “‘Sex change’ is biologically impossible,” and people can only become “feminized men or masculinized women.” McHugh has long disdained the liberal sector of his discipline, calling it “the captive of the culture” in a 1992 essay. By failing to study transgender feelings to learn to treat them, he wrote, doctors “abandon the role of protecting patients from their symptoms and become little more than technicians working on behalf of a cultural force.”

Childish Tendencies

 

A window into the self-absorbed hipster, Obvious Child is painful to watch

By Emily Belz

(WNS)--Obvious Child is an independent “romantic comedy” starring internet darling and brief Saturday Night Live cast member Jenny Slate as Donna, a stand-up comedian living in Brooklyn who has a one-night stand that turns into a pregnancy. Unlike the moms in the hits Juno or Knocked Up, Donna quickly decides to have an abortion.

“I’m pregnant and I’m having an abortion,” a teary Donna tells her Manhattanite mom late in the film.

“Thank God,” the mom replies. “I thought you were going to tell me you were moving to L.A.”

Even in Manhattan, very few people in the theater laughed. The abortion aside, the comedy is painful to watch. (Its R-rating applies mostly to the crude comments from Donna.)

The film, which scored the highest per theater earnings in the country in its very limited initial release in New York and Los Angeles, has received positive reviews presumably for its “bravery” of showing a woman having an abortion instead of a baby. Making a moving, realistic movie about a woman getting an abortion is theoretically possible; after all, at least a million children are aborted in the United States every year. That movie wouldn’t be a romantic comedy. In this “abortions have a happy ending” story, Donna finds approval for her decision from all of her family and friends, and her one-night stand turns into real romance. The father, Max (Jake Lacy), shows up outside her house with a bouquet of flowers to go with her to her abortion appointment. The film closes with Donna, post-abortion, curling up with Max to watch a movie.

Unlike Juno MacGuff, Obvious Child’s Donna never wonders what stage of development the baby is in or whether to abort. When Donna’s friend recounts when she had an abortion, Donna asks if she had regrets. The friend says sometimes “I feel sorry for my teenage self.” In one reading, this is a film about self-involved millennials, like Lena Dunham’s show Girls. Both Girls and Obvious Child take place in Williamsburg, the ultra-hipster neighborhood of Brooklyn, and center on single 20- and 30-somethings (my generation).

In Girls, I can never tell if Dunham is critiquing the self-involved world of 20-somethings or if she is telling everyone else to understand and accept millennials for who they are. The same is true here with Gillian Robespierre, the writer and director of the film. Donna is a realistic character who makes terrible decisions, who isn’t successful in her career, who shares awkward details about her relationships in her stand-up routines, even announcing her decision to have an abortion from the stage. Donna is also the embodiment of the millennial tendency to act as if nothing is a big deal: She affects ambivalence about both the thrift store sweater she wears and her decision to have an abortion. Apparently if you act like a millennial, you live happily ever after—an ending even Lena Dunham doesn’t allow on her show.

Despite Obvious Child’s attempt to be a gritty, independent film, the realism is limited to Donna’s millennial attitude. Here Juno distinguishes itself again. Juno, which won an Oscar for best original screenplay, allowed its story to remain first. The writer, Diablo Cody, wasn’t a pro-life lobbyist with a checklist. But in Obvious Child, the story is reduced to a Planned Parenthood public service announcement. Planned Parenthood’s logo even appears in the abortion center scenes, on bulletin boards or wall hangings, like a product placement.

The dialogue, usually believable, turns staged when the abortion issue comes up, checking off all the “Frequently Asked Questions” about abortion: Does it hurt? (No!) Is the recovery difficult? (No!) A Planned Parenthood employee explains to Donna how much abortions cost and then adds that there is financial assistance for those without means. No wonder Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups are promoting the film. The organization said it “consulted closely” with the filmmakers and it shows. Robespierre not only misfired with her message; she made a bad film.

NATIONAL BRIEFS

IBLP: Gothard was Inappropriate, not Criminal

 

(WNS)--Former ministry leader Bill Gothard acted inappropriately, showing a “lack of discretion and failure to follow Christ’s example of being blameless and above reproach.” Those are the findings of an internal investigation conducted by the board of directors of the Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP), the ministry Gothard founded. The investigation followed accusations that Gothard, over several decades, made inappropriate sexual advances toward young women involved in the ministry. Watchdog group Recovering Grace has been gathering and publishing accounts of Gothard’s alleged behavior on its website for the past three years. The board placed Gothard on administrative leave in February. He resigned his position from the ministry in March, which coincided with the launch of the board’s investigation.

Supreme Court Confirms First Amendment Protections for Whistleblowers

 

(WNS)--In a decision that could give more rights to public workers who speak out against government corruption, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 19 ruled unanimously in favor of whistleblowers. The court decided that when employees of public entities testify in court, they do so as a citizens, not as representatives of their employers. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the decision, declaring, “there is considerable value … in encouraging, rather than inhibiting, speech by public employees.”

Conservatives Gain Voice in House Leadership

 

(WNS)--House Republicans elected a new majority leader and whip June 17, completing a leadership shakeup that began when Majority Leader Eric Canter lost his primary. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., ascended from majority whip to majority leader with a first-ballot victory over conservative challenger Rep Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., also registered a first-ballot victory in a mild upset, defeating Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., in a three-way race to replace McCarthy as the party’s No. 3. McCarthy and Scalise will assume their new roles on July 31, when Cantor has said he will step down. 

INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS

Canadian Lawyers Rally Against Christian Law School Grads

(WNS)--By a 3-to-1 margin, member lawyers of the Law Society of British Columbia voted June 10 to reverse a previous decision to recognize future graduates from the planned Trinity Western University School of Law. Although thousands of lawyers participated in the nonbinding vote, it was a purely symbolic measure: The ultimate decision to approve Trinity Western’s law school lies in the hands of the society’s governing “benchers,” who are similar to a board of directors. In April, the benchers voted 20-6 to authorize the country’s first Christian law school, even though the university requires all students, faculty, and staff to sign a community covenant restricting sexual activity to traditional marriages. Religious liberty advocates in the United States and Canada believe the fate of Trinity Western’s law school is a bellwether for religious freedom in North America.

                 

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WMCN Editor
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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