WORLD News Service – June 20 2014
IBLP: Gothard was inappropriate, not criminal: Watchdog group Recovering Grace calls the ministry's internal investigation a ‘severe disappointment’
Supreme Court Confirms First Amendment Protections for Whistleblowers
Marchers Unite for Marriage: People of many faiths and cultures gathered at the nation’s capital to rally support for traditional marriage
Conservatives Gain Voice in House Leadership: Establishment Republicans keep control, but conservatives get a foot in the door
Unequally Yoked: Can Christian publishers owned by secular companies maintain their Christian distinctives?
U.S. Lawmakers Try to Reignite Outrage Over Kidnapped Schoolgirls
Canadian Lawyers Rally Against Christian Law School Grads
North Korea Deserves Unrelenting Attention for Unrelenting Atrocities
IBLP: Gothard was inappropriate, not criminal
Watchdog group Recovering Grace calls the ministry's internal investigation a ‘severe disappointment’
By Warren Cole Smith
(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.
A statement released Tuesday by the IBLP board said “no criminal activity has been discovered. If it had been, it would have been reported to the proper authorities immediately, as it will be in the future if any such activity is revealed.”
The board, despite its findings of indiscretion, did leave open the possibility that Gothard could return to the ministry: “We believe God still desires to use Bill Gothard for His work in the Kingdom of God, but we also believe it is important that he be held to the high standards clearly taught in the Scriptures and upheld by this ministry. At this time the Board unanimously agrees that Mr. Gothard is not permitted to serve in any counseling, leadership, or Board role within the IBLP ministry.”
The IBLP board also said it was working toward reconciliation with the women toward whom Gothard acted inappropriately, and their families: “We want to encourage reconciliation within families and are very supportive of efforts toward reconciliation with Mr. Gothard or with IBLP. The Board is asking that Mr. Gothard submit to and cooperate with a team of Christian leaders who will direct his reconciliation process.”
Recovering Grace, the group that brought the allegations against Gothard to light, expressed its concern with the board’s findings. In a 3,000-word statement released today, the group said the board report was a “severe disappointment” that minimized the “exploitation of innocent young women” for the sake of “saving the organization above all else.” Recovering Grace called the board statement an exercise in “choosing self-preservation, ignoring the abuse and broken lives left by a predatory leader.”
Recovering Grace also questioned whether the investigation was truly independent, noting that David Gibbs Jr., who led the inquiry, has had a “long-term relationship with Bill Gothard and the IBLP organization since the 1980s.”
Requests made by WORLD to interview Gothard, the chairman of the IBLP board, and Gibbs have so far gone unanswered.
Gothard has been a prominent Christian leader since the 1970s, when he often led arena-sized events with thousands in attendance. The ministry claims to have trained more than 2.5 million people since the late 1960s. In the 1980s, Gothard’s organization—then known as the Institute for Basic Youth Conflicts—had another major scandal. At that time, Gothard’s brother Steve, then administrative director for the ministry, stepped down following accusations he had sexual relationships with several of the organization’s staff. Bill Gothard faced accusations then that he had tolerated an environment where such abuses could take place, and he stepped down for three weeks, but later returned to leadership in the ministry.
Supreme Court Confirms First Amendment Protections for Whistleblowers
By Allie Hulcher
(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.”
Edward Lane, who worked at Central Alabama Community College, fired Alabama state Rep. Suzanne Schmitz after discovering she was on the payroll despite not doing any work. Lane testified in two federal criminal trails against Schmitz, and she later served 13 months in prison.
Lane claimed that after testifying, he faced retaliation from college administrators. Steve Franks, the community college president, sent out 29 termination letters but later rescinded all but two, including Lane’s.
Lane sued, but the lower courts ruled that he had acted in an official capacity when testifying at Schmitz’s trial, just as he had acted in official capacity when firing Schmitz.
Sotomayor, however, wrote the First Amendment “protects a public employee who provided truthful sworn testimony, compelled by subpoena, outside the course of his ordinary job responsibilities.”
The court remained silent on First Amendment protections for some public employees, such as police officers, crime scene technicians, and laboratory analysts, because for them testifying is a “routine and critical part of their employment duties,” rather than outside of their ordinary job duties.
The majority opinion called sworn testimony at a trial “a quintessential example of speech as a citizen for a simple reason: Anyone who testifies in court bears an obligation, to the court and society at large, to tell the truth.”
Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, predicted the decision will have a “wide impact” on investigations of securities, banking, and tax fraud.
“This ruling gives a green light to all public employees who have information concerning official corruption and fraud and want to expose these crimes,” Kohn told the Associated Press.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case earlier this year, asking the court to make it clear that a public employee has a First Amendment right to speak freely outside the workplace.
“We see all too often that public universities and colleges place political litmus tests on employees,” said ADF senior legal counsel David Hacker. “But as the Supreme Court has affirmed time and time again, Americans do not lose their First Amendment freedoms when they accept a government job.”
Marchers Unite for Marriage
People of many faiths and cultures gathered at the nation’s capital to rally support for traditional marriage
By Emily Scheie & Rikki Elizabeth Stinnette
(WNS)--Elaine Soto and her family left New Jersey at 3 a.m. on Thursday to come to the March for Marriage in Washington. She brought her four children to “open their eyes to the fact they don’t have to shrink. They don’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed even if what they believe is not politically correct.”
Jack McGill of Detroit, Mich., along with his wife of 22 years, Diane, and their two children drove 600 miles to D.C. for the second time this year to attend a protest—the first was the March for Life. In both cases, McGill said he came to “support God’s truth.” He hopes Congress will pass a marriage amendment.
“That truth [of biblical marriage] is engraved on everyone’s heart from creation,” he said.
This year marks the second annual marriage march, held to ask Congress to define marriage according to traditional, biblical standards. The marchers this year included people of different ages, races, religions, and cultures, all united under the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. They gathered Thursday on the Capitol lawn to let politicians know the fight for marriage is not over.
“We are not under an obligation to defy God to obey you,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said at Thursday’s rally, speaking to the government in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act last year. That law provided a federal definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Currently, states can decide whether or not to allow gay marriage—19 have overruled homosexual marriage bans and now allow same-sex unions. But legal challenges have been filed in every state that bans same-sex marriage, and the issue eventually will end up back before the Supreme Court.
With gay marriage continuing to gain momentum and acceptance in the nation’s culture, Joe Grabowski, director of communications for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), said standing for the biblical definition of marriage “can feel like a very lonely position.” NOM organized the march to bring people together. Last year, roughly 7,000 attended. This year, organizers estimated as many as 10,000 joined the procession.
“It’s really nice to see you’re not the only one out there,” said Karlene Carkhuff, who attended the march with her family both years. She pointed to her daughters and said, “These girls need to see they’re not alone.”
Carkhuff and her daughters marched with monks in gray cloaks, priests in collars, and Jews in heavy black suits. Chinese marchers shared the shade with African Americans.
A group of Hispanic marchers, stretching across a city block, blew horns and whistles and gave shouts of praise as they marched onto the lawn. They cheered wildly when Ruben Diaz, a pastor and New York state senator, rallied them in Spanish.
From the podium, speakers proclaimed the message that marriage is more than just a romance or a relationship between two people.
“The family unit is not arbitrarily defined by man as he pleases, but by nature,” said Alfonso Aguilar, with the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. “One of its defining objectives is the procreation and upbringing of children.”
Delaware residents Seif and Francesca Kmar, both 19, met over email and married last September. Though Seif is a Tunisian Muslim and Francesca an American Christian, both attended the protest to stand up for their belief in traditional marriage.
Francesca especially believes marriage is important because a single mother raised her. When her mother married again for a few years, Francesca loved having both a father and a mother. “For that short period of time, I felt complete,” she said. “The institution of marriage … is bigger than all of us.”
Raheel Majeed Masih is a Pentecostal pastor from Pakistan who recently arrived in the United States. He was excited to take advantage of the freedom to stand up for his beliefs—a liberty he said he didn’t have at home: “If we do criticism there they beat us.”
The first March for Marriage took place on March 26, 2013, the day the Supreme Court heard arguments over California’s marriage amendment, commonly referred to as Proposition 8. Thursday’s procession stretched around the Capitol and stopped traffic. The crowd marched to the Supreme Court building behind a banner proclaiming “Every Child Deserves a Mom & a Dad” while singing hymns such as “Amazing Grace.”
When they reached the corner across from the Supreme Court, the protestors met about 50 counter-protestors waving rainbow flags. Before the march began, NOM president Brian Brown instructed the marchers that if they met opposition, they should not resist. With same-sex marriage supporters lining the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court building, the marchers knelt and prayed in both Spanish and English. The shouts of “One man! One woman!” and Spanish praise songs died to a hush as the marchers prayed. When they were done, the counter-protestors parted and the marchers reached the Supreme Court steps, where they dispersed after one last prayer in Spanish.
Conservatives Gain Voice in House Leadership
Establishment Republicans keep control, but conservatives get a foot in the door
By J.C. Derrick
(WNS)--House Republicans elected a new majority leader and whip Tuesday afternoon, completing a leadership shakeup that began nine days ago 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.
“I’ll make one promise,” McCarthy said after the election. “I will work every single day to make sure this conference has the courage to lead with the wisdom to listen, and we’ll turn this country around.”
McCarthy and Scalise will assume their new roles on July 31, when Cantor has said he will step down.
Although Thursday’s vote included candidates unknown to most of the country, the results could have far-reaching implications. The majority House leadership, among other things, assigns committee membership, sets policy priorities, and determines what bills will come to the floor for votes—important decisions for a Congress that continues to set new lows in approval ratings.
Virginia voters ousted Cantor last week in favor of a more conservative challenger, David Brat, but McCarthy, his leadership replacement, may actually be less conservative than Cantor. Labrador, a tea party favorite, entered the race late and said he did so to provide a true conservative alternative. “We regained control of the House in 2010 because Americans believed that Washington was not listening,” Labrador said Wednesday at a candidate forum. “If you vote for the status quo tomorrow, you will prove that we are still not listening.”
Members cast votes via secret ballot, and since Labrador asked for the vote to be recorded as unanimous, it is unclear how many Republicans may have cast protest votes. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, one of the most conservative members of Congress, said McCarthy “has said it will not be business as usual, so now we will see if the coming evidence supports such a verdict.”
Gohmert this week announced he will run to replace Scalise as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the party’s 176-member conservative caucus. Scalise cited his RSC work as a cornerstone of his campaign for whip, saying he’s proven it’s possible to both pass conservative legislation and bridge divides in the party.
Apparently it worked: Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., told me after the vote that he voted for Scalise because of his RSC experience, saying the party needs to focus on the issues that can bring the GOP together. “I don’t want to criticize anybody, but I think we need to be more aggressive in moving our agenda forward,” he said. “We need 218 to pass a bill and we really need to be unified together.”
The man Scalise defeated, Peter Roskam, took a different approach to his campaign: He reportedly told members he would bring unruly conservatives into line—by punishing them. Roskam floated ideas such as refusing to take up members’ bills and relegating rebels to unimportant committee assignments if they refused to fall into line, a tactic House Speaker John Boehner used after the 2012 election.
Scalise’s election means House leadership tips more conservative and gains a member from the South—an attribute some lawmakers said was important.
Some conservative members said they view the next few months as a trial run for the next Congress, but Republicans likely will vote to keep the same leadership in place for the 114th Congress.
“They’ll be reelected without any problem,” Rep. John Fleming, R-La., told me, saying the positions likely won’t be contested again until at least 2016. “It was settled for now.”
Can Christian publishers owned by secular companies maintain their Christian distinctives?
By Warren Cole Smith
(WNS)--When WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group published Matthew Vines’ book God and the Gay Christian in April, Jerry Johnson had a problem.
Johnson is the new president of National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), and WaterBrook Multomah was an associate member. The ethics statement of the NRB is clear: Members must adhere to a broadly evangelical statement of faith that applies to the material the members produce.
Johnson later wrote in a memo to his board that WaterBrook Multnomah had a “good record of publishing … evangelicals that share the doctrinal commitments of NRB. While acknowledging that positive track record, the question remains, ‘What role, if any, did Waterbrook Multnomah have in this pro-homosexuality publication?’”
After conversations with Waterbrook Multnomah’s leadership, Johnson presented the publisher with a choice: “I told them that if they wanted to remain NRB associate members, I would have to refer the matter to our Ethics Committee for review, or they could agree to resign their membership. They agreed to resign immediately.”
The story of Waterbrook Multnomah’s resignation from NRB is a case study in the complicated issues facing the Christian publishing industry. To begin with, consider this: Neither Waterbrook nor Multnomah published Vines’ controversial book. The newly formed Convergent Books published God and the Gay Christian. However, for Jerry Johnson this distinction made no difference. “Steven W. Cobb serves as the chief publishing executive for both groups. This issue comes down to NRB members producing unbiblical material, regardless of the label under which they do it.”
Was the issue further complicated by the fact that Multnomah, Waterbrook, and Convergent are all a part of Crown Publishing Group, which is a part of the publishing giant Penguin Random House? And that Penguin Random House, which had revenue of more than $3 billion last year, is owned by the privately held German company Bertelsman, which did more than $20 billion in revenue last year, with more than $1 billion in profit?
Whatever the answer to those questions, they could easily apply to almost the entire Christian publishing industry. The consolidation began in 1988, when Zondervan was bought by HarperCollins, which is itself owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. HarperCollins also bought the largest bookseller in Christian publishing, Thomas Nelson, in 2012.
Marvin Padgett is a longtime Christian publishing insider. From 1997 to 2005 he was editorial vice president at Crossway Books and then filled a similar position at P&R until his retirement in 2012. He came out of retirement to lead Great Commission Publishers, which is a nonprofit publishing venture of the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
“I attended the Christian Booksellers Association convention in 1988 when the hot news on the floor was the acquisition of Zondervan,” he said. “We were asking the same questions then, so this is not new.”
But—especially given the Multnomah Waterbrook situation—are the answers different? “No place I’ve ever worked would have dared do anything remotely like what Multnomah did,” Padgett said. “We had bedrock principles that governed what we published.” All three of Padgett’s employers are nonprofit organizations governed by a board of directors and a Christian mission. “A nonprofit company is responsible to the Lord,” Padgett said. “A for-profit company is responsible to shareholders.”
Padgett admitted, though, that the gloomiest predictions about Zondervan have not come to pass. “I think Zondervan had the sense to put safeguards in place that allowed them to control their own fate,” Padgett said. “And Rupert Murdoch had the sense not to tamper with the goose that is laying a golden egg.”
Padgett noted that “profit” is not a dirty word even to so-called “nonprofit” publishers. Padgett says that while the mission comes first for a nonprofit organization, “getting at least to break-even is what allows us to keep doing what we do.”
Bob Fryling of InterVarsity Press (IVP) said the biggest changes the large publishers have had on the industry has been the “greater competition for [brand name] evangelical authors and agents who are being wooed by the greater resources of these companies.” Fryling said that also means “it is getting harder to publish either first-time authors or those who don’t have a large public platform but have important things to say.”
Such innovations as self-publishing and print-on-demand have theoretically made it easier for first-time authors to get into print, but the proliferation of books that these technologies enable makes it all the harder to break through. The Shack sold 1 million self-published copies before publishing giant Hachette picked it up and sold 10 million more.
But such well-publicized self-publishing success stories hide the fact that lottery wins and lightning strikes are more likely than landing a self-published book on The New York Times best-seller list. In 2013, more than 1 million self-published titles came out. According to self-publishing guru Robert Kroese, the overwhelming majority of these books sold fewer than 100 copies. Indeed, about the only people making money are the publishers themselves. In 2012, Penguin acquired self-publisher Author Solutions for $116 million. At the time of the acquisition, Penguin reported Author Solutions had generated more than $100 million in revenue the year before and was growing at 12 percent per year.
And for the reader, self-publishing provides even fewer safeguards of theological orthodoxy. Most of the major Christian publishers had an opportunity to publish The Shack but turned it down in part because of its theological problems. Such evangelical luminaries as Al Mohler, Chuck Colson, and Norman Geisler warned evangelical readers away from The Shack—but only after it became a publishing phenomenon.
All of this points to an unsettled future for the book publishing industry, especially for Christian publishers who maintain fidelity to Scripture. That’s nothing new. The English printer and publisher John Day endured prison from 1554 to 1558 for refusing to “cease and desist” his printing of Protestant material, including what we know today as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
Also not new is the practice of Christian publishers being “unequally yoked” to secular business partners and products. In the 19th century, for example, Thomas Nelson published all manner of non-Christian material, including some of the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes’ fame.
Here’s what is new: Today, in the modern era of publicly traded companies, maximizing shareholder value now, rather than down the road, minimizes long-term thinking. In such an environment, as Marvin Padgett noted, there is an “inescapable disconnect” between a company “whose sole end is profit and that of a Christian ministry.
U.S. Lawmakers Try to Reignite Outrage Over Kidnapped Schoolgirls
By Ryan Hill
(WNS)--Last weekend, several members of Congress met a Nigerian woman who was forced to watch as terrorists decapitated her husband. The murderers then slit her throat and arms, but not fatally. They knew how to keep her alive, said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who recalled the widow’s difficulty speaking.
Jackson Lee and other House members spoke Thursday about their 48-hour journey to Nigeria, where they visited with families of the abducted Chibok Secondary Girls School students. They condemned President Goodluck Jonathan’s failure not just to chase Boko Haram kidnappers into the forest but also to provide financially for victims and their relatives. Outraged by tales of atrocity, the U.S. legislators are demanding a Nigerian Victims Fund from Jonathan’s government, and encouraging a volley of tweets from average Americans.
As one of the world’s fastest-growing nations, Nigeria has plenty of wealth to spare some aid to victims, Jackson Lee said. The African Development Bank estimated a 7.4 percent growth in Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in 2013. At his daughter’s wedding last April, Jonathan gave out gold-plated iPhones to guests.
Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., said Nigeria could become an economic powerhouse and American trade partner over the next few decades. “Or it could be a haven for terrorism and terrible things,” he added.
The nation has a burgeoning population to match its economic growth. A 2013 United Nations study predicted a Nigerian population of 440 million by 2050, more than an estimated 401 million in the United States.
Nigerian activists using the hashtag “BringBackOurGirls” meet every day at the city of Abuja’s Unity Fountain to protest Jonathan’s inaction. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., called on average Americans to adjust for time zone differences and join the Nigerians online in the morning: “You’re gonna keep tweeting and tweeting and tweeting until it catches on like a fire across this world.”
Jackson Lee, though, shied from the use of force: “I would not stand here today and ask for a violent siege that would cause the loss of life for these girls.”
Boko Haram killed two emirs while Jackson Lee was in the country. The group is the chief suspect in a fatal bombing that left a dozen dead at a World Cup viewing party Tuesday in Nigeria. The militants continue to burn mosques, churches, hospitals, and schools. In Jackson Lee’s words, they stand on moral-less ground.
“I think they’ve lost all credibility on the issue of ‘This is a religious war,’” she said. “When you are taking girls … you are not converting them. You are, in essence, enslaving them to a faith. No one promotes their faith through enslaving.”
Canadian Lawyers Rally Against Christian Law School Grads
By J.C. Derrick
(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.
In response, British Columbia attorney Michael Mulligan, who claims Trinity Western’s policy is discriminatory, led an effort to gather signatures that would force a special general meeting of the province’s 11,000 lawyers. The general meeting took place in more than a dozen locations around British Columbia, and Tuesday night the society announced members voted 3,210 to 968 to direct the benchers to reconsider.
“We won!” Mulligan tweeted after the vote.
Jan Lindsay, president of the Law Society of British Columbia, in a statement said she and other benchers would give the matter “serious and thoughtful consideration,” but she made no promises: “The decision regarding whether to admit graduates from the proposed law school at TWU is a Bencher decision.”
Bob Kuhn, Trinity Western University president, said a vocal group of lawyers organizing a general meeting should not undermine the benchers’ April ruling. “Difficult decisions involving fundamental rights and freedoms should not be decided by popular opinion,” Kuhn said in a statement. “In a free and democratic society, the faith of TWU graduates cannot preclude them from practicing law.”
Trinity Western first submitted its proposal for an accredited law program in 2012. In December 2013, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education issued back-to-back approvals, citing “no public interest reason” not to grant preliminary permission. Provincial law societies, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island, all followed with votes to accept Trinity Western graduates, but societies in Ontario and Nova Scotia narrowly voted not to recognize them.
Although the school has secured mobility agreements—meaning its graduates could pass the bar in one province then move to another—last month Trinity Western announced it would pursue legal action to ensure its future graduates are recognized in every province. The university believes the controversy over its community covenant was sufficiently settled in 2001, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 8 to 1 that Trinity Western could have an accredited teaching program and leave its Christian beliefs intact.
“We feel that landmark decision needs to be respected,” said Kuhn, an attorney who led Trinity Western’s legal team in 2001. He noted Canada’s 2005 same-sex marriage law “recognizes that it is not against public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage.”
Opponents say the 2001 court decision addressed teachers’ ability to teach fairly, whereas the current complaint claims the school policy excludes homosexual applicants. In April, a gay activist in Vancouver sued Amrik Virk, the British Columbia Minister of Advanced Education, saying he should not have approved the Trinity Western law school because its admissions policy is discriminatory.
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.
North Korea Deserves Unrelenting Attention for Unrelenting Atrocities
By Rikki Elizabeth Stinnette
(WNS)--Shin Dong-Hyuk spoke in a calm monotone as he recounted how North Korean prison guards dangled him over a fire. Because he thought the guards would reward him, 14-year-old Shin told them about his mother and older brother’s plans to flee the prison camp. But instead of granting Shin his freedom, the guards tortured him and made him watch his two family members’ public execution.
The only person born in a North Korean political prison who is known to have escaped, Shin still bears the scars of his experience.
“These messages of my suffering will never go away until the day I die,” he said through a translator.
Shin and three other experts on human rights violations in North Korea spoke Wednesday before part of the House Foreign Affairs committee.
While the House considers a bill calling for additional penalties against North Korea, Wednesday’s meeting provided a follow-up to a March UN report on human rights abuses in the communist country. A UN commission of inquiry recommended North Korean government crimes be sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation. The study recorded the systematic execution of Christians and mixed-race children. South Korean Human Rights Ambassador Lee Jong-hoon called the situation “genocide” and urged the representatives to hold North Korea responsible.
“Why can’t there be a red line for human rights as there is for weapons of mass destruction?” Lee asked at Wednesday's hearing.
According to a Heritage Foundation paper by Bruce Klingner, both Iran and Burma face tougher sanctions than North Korea, which has been perpetrating human rights violations for nearly 70 years.
While all the representatives at the hearing agreed the oppression in North Korea should be addressed, not all said UN involvement would provide the answers.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who headed the subcommittee hearing Wednesday, believes the ICC doesn’t have a great record in addressing crimes against humanity. China can protect its ally North Korea from international intervention, and it is difficult for outsiders to make an impact in the closed nation.
“The world has really failed to raise the issue in a complete way,” Smith told me. “It has to get to the highest levels.”
Smith recommended South Korea create a regional court to address North Korean crimes because it could easily gather information on the regime from North Korean refugees. But South Korea has never addressed North Korea’s human rights issues—the nation’s liberals believe such a move would compromise any negotiations with its neighbor to the north.
Andrew Natsios, co-chair for the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and former vice president of World Vision, thinks it will be a long time before people in North Korea regain their rights. The best thing the world can do, he said, is to publicize the nation’s oppression: “I think we should simply be unrelenting.”
Shin continues his unrelenting work against North Korean oppression by speaking about his experiences through his bestselling book, Escape from Camp 14. While he initially fled the prison camp in hopes of eating the delicious meals he heard existed outside its walls, he has come to value his freedom.
“No one has the right to deny or take away freedom, which is the DNA of humanity,” he said.
Google Shuns Porn in Ads, Apps
(WNS)--Google is cracking down on sexually graphic content with two recent policy changes, one implemented in March and one that started last week. The new rules take steps to eliminate explicit material in Google’s advertisements and apps. Google will no longer accept advertisements through Google AdWords that promote graphic depictions of sexual acts, according to an email the company sent to advertising accounts last week. Morality in Media, a national organization opposing pornography, published the letter. The new policy will restrict ads containing or linking to explicit content. The policy revision came after a May meeting in Washington, D.C., between Google and anti-pornography advocates including Morality in Media, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family.
Need an Immune System Boost? Try a Three-Day Fast
(WNS)--University of Southern California (USC) researchers published a study in June suggesting that fasting may put the immune system into overdrive by activating stem cells. Studying the effects of fasting on cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy produced the unexpected result. Fasting not only protected healthy tissue, but also allowed the body to recycle old and damaged white cells. When the patients resumed eating, their white counts returned to normal. Valter Longo, director of the USC longevity institute and a member of the USC Norris Cancer Center, said, “We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem-cell based regeneration.” The prolonged fast in this study lasted three days and limited participants to between 400 and 1,000 calories a day.
Catholic Church Wins Hiring Case at European Rights Court
(WNS)--The European Court for Human Rights ruled June 12that the Roman Catholic Church can base its hiring and firing decisions on its beliefs and conduct policies. The split, 9-8 decision upheld the Church’s 1997 decision not to renew the contract of Fernández Martínez, a former priest, after he opposed the doctrine of priestly celibacy. Martínez, a high school religion teacher in Spain, took the case from a local Spanish employment tribunal all the way to Europe’s highest rights court. All rejected his claim that the Church violated his rights. The human rights court majority ruled that the religion teacher was “voluntarily” part of a group that, “for reasons of credibility,” had “a duty of loyalty towards the Catholic Church.” By voluntarily entering into the contract, he was “limiting his right to respect for his private life.” Martínez’s teaching position was also “very close” to the “Church’s proclamatory mission.” Therefore, the Church had a right to not renew his contract if he publicly opposed its doctrines.
Ireland Investigates Death of 800 Babies at Home for Unwed Mothers
(WNS)--Ireland's government launched an investigation in early June into the high mortality rates and mistreatment of babies who died decades ago in homes for unmarried mothers, plunging the country into a painful examination of the past. The investigation followed the revelation that hundreds of children died at a former “mother and baby” home run by the Congregation of the Bon Secours Sisters in western Ireland. Historian Catherine Corless found records showing that 796 children, mostly infants, died in the home in Tuam, which operated from 1925 until 1961. Corless said the child death records suggest that a former septic tank filled with bones is the final resting place for most, if not all, the children. The inquiry follows four other fact-finding investigations in Ireland, including examinations of the cover-up of child abuse inside industrial schools and by priests in Dublin, Cork, and the southeast county of Wexford.