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September 29, 2010
Legislative Action Alert


Contact Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger


Tell him to veto SB 906 & SB 543

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building

Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160

Riverside Office
3737 Main Street #201
Riverside, CA 92501
Phone: 951-680-6860 Fax: 951-680-6863

Los Angeles Office
300 South Spring Street, Suite 16701
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: 213-897-0322
Fax: 213-897-0319

To email Governor  Schwarzenegger visit his website: www.gov.ca.gov/interact

September 28, 2010
School Must Allow ‘Transgender’ 6th Grader to Use Girls’ Bathroom: Maine Human Rights Panel

(LifeSiteNews)  The Maine Human Rights Commission (HRC) has ruled that a middle school unlawfully discriminated against a "transgender" sixth-grade boy by disallowing the child from entering a girls` bathroom and instead assigning him his own separate bathroom.

The matter concerned Orono Middle School`s treatment of a child whose parents have insisted has a right to use a girl`s bathroom, despite being biologically male, because of his chosen gender identity.

“In choosing to disallow [him] to use the girls’ bathroom facilities, the school was implicitly isolating and alienating her (sic) from other students,” the parents wrote, according to local reports. “We determined that we needed to modify our actions to do the best we could to ensure [our child’s] safety.”

The panel also ruled against Asa Adams Elementary School in Orono last year, when the same parents issued a similar complaint over the school`s conduct while their child was in the fifth grade, in the 2007-08 school year.

The school contended that officials had adequately accommodated the child, by educating staff and students on the situation, giving the child his own bathroom and locker room, and even arranging frequent meetings with his parents.  “For the most part, she (sic) appeared to be happy and involved in the school community,” officials wrote.

The parents also alleged that the school subjected the boy to a hostile environment due to harassment from other students, a claim rejected by the HRC panel. He has since been removed from the school district.

In a September 20 meeting, the panel announced they would wait until the election of a new state governor before issuing guidelines on how schools ought to accommodate "transgender" students.

September 28, 2010
Pastors Defy IRS On `Pulpit Freedom Sunday`

(ABC News) Nearly 100 pastors across the country took part in Pulpit Freedom Sunday today, an in-your-face challenge to what the government says can and cannot be said in church.

The pastors, along with the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based nonprofit Alliance Defense Fund, planned today`s event as a reaction to a law stating that churches are not allowed to support politicians from the pulpit, according to the ADF.

The growing trend is a challenge to the IRS from the churches, and may jeopardize their all-important tax-exempt status. But some pastors and church leaders said they are willing to defy the law to defend their right to freedom of speech.

Pastor Dan Fisher from Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon, Okla., who took part in today`s challenge, said should be allowed to discuss politics with their congregation.

Separation of church and state is not in the Constitution, but the government uses tax exemption as a means to enforce that notion, he added.

"The crowd applauded, and said it was wonderful," Fisher said of his sermon this morning. "I can`t say that everyone was happy, but no one came up to me to complain."

Federal tax law, established in 1954, prohibits churches and tax exempt entities from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an initiative organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian nonprofit organization, which according to its website seeks to "defend the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation."

"We believe that a pastor has a right to speak whatever he believes without fearing the government will somehow censor what he says or threaten to take away his tax exemption," ADF spokesman Erik Stanley said.

He said the group believes that the 1954 amendment, sponsored by then Sen. Lyndon Johnson, D-Texas, is a violation of the Constitution. According to the ADF, the government`s monitoring of the content of pastors` and churches` speech is a violation of the Free Speech Clause.

The IRS said they`d be keeping an eye on the planned activities.

"We are aware of recent press reports, and will monitor the situation and take action as appropriate," IRS spokesman Robert Marvin said.

In 2008, 33 pastors took part in the first Pulpit Freedom Sunday, when they defiantly spoke of politics to their congregation. Though not an election year, many also participated in 2009.

"It`s entirely appropriate to use the separation of church and state to tell government it has no business being in the pulpits of America," he said. "This is about a pastor`s right of free speech."

He said other than challenging the law, there is no political agenda.

"We make it a practice not to ask in advance [which candidates or political party a pastor might support] because for us it doesn`t matter," Stanley said. "We believe pulpit freedom is for any pastor."

Pastors and Churches Divided

But not all pastors and churches agree that Pulpit Freedom Sunday will do anything to help the cause.

"I think it`s absolutely ridiculous. Why would you want to anger the IRS?" Rev. Kenneth Whalum Jr. of Tennessee`s mid-South region told ABC-24.

David Shelley, pastor of Smith Springs Baptist in Tennessee, is defying the clause for the second time this year by throwing his support behind several Republican candidates.

"My support for these candidates has nothing to do with their party or their skin color or any other non-biblically related issue," he said.

Shelley, like many other pastors, is hoping that the IRS does come after him, according to The Tennessean newspaper.

"We`re the ones that have equity with the thousands of people that attend this church," Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church in Houston said in an ADF video.

"I don`t run their lives, I don`t tell them what to do, but I`m going to speak into their lives, and if I`m not speaking into their lives on the issues that have made the nation great, and the issues that God cares about, then who is?" he said.

Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, has made it clear that participating churches have plenty to lose.

"Tax exemption is not a right; it`s a privilege that comes with certain restrictions," Lynn said.

September 28, 2010
Health Care Law Includes Millions of Dollars for HIV/AIDS Prevention

(CNS News)  At the most basic level, preventing HIV/AIDS is a matter of individual responsibility. But it’s also become an expensive government function.

On Friday, the Health and Human Services Department announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is allocating $30 million taxpayer dollars to expand national HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.

The millions of dollars will come from a new “Prevention and Public Health Fund” established by the Democrats’ health care law. More than $21 million of the money will be in the form of grants to state and local health departments to cover increased HIV/AIDS testing and data collection, among other things.

“This funding will give a critical boost to our HIV/AIDS prevention efforts across the country,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “By focusing on communities and geographic areas that have been hardest hit by this disease, these critical investments will make a real impact on prevention efforts -- a key part of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.”

Kevin Fenton, the physician who oversees prevention of sexually transmitted diseases for the federal Centers for Disease Control, said the funding announced on Friday will support “innovative, evidence-based, and high-impact prevention efforts.”

The Food and Drug Administration – in a brochure on condoms and sexually transmitted diseases – was able to sum up prevention strategies in three sentences: It says the surest way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, is either to abstain from sex altogether; limit sex to one monogamous  partner; and/or use condoms correctly.

According to the FDA, about two-thirds of the people with AIDS in the United States got the disease during sexual intercourse with an infected partner. "Experts believe that many of these people could have avoided the disease by using condoms," the brochure says.

Prevention as a government function

Some of the grants announced on Friday will focus on the best way to prevent HIV/AIDS in 12 hard-hit areas across the country, including Chicago, Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Houston, Los Angeles, Maryland, New York City, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, and Texas.

Each of those jurisdictions will work with CDC “to determine what mix of HIV prevention approaches can have the greatest impact…at the individual, population, and community level,” the HHS news release said.

Millions of dollars also will be spent on evaluating new “prevention approaches” and “prioritizing underserved populations.”

Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said the $30-million in new funding “represents an exciting new investment" in HIV/AIDS prevention. "With far too many new infections occurring here each year – one new infection every nine and a half minutes – we must work together to ensure that the urgent HIV prevention needs in this country are met,” Mermin added.

`Complacency`

Last week, the CDC released a study showing that in 21 major cities, nearly one in five men who have sex with men are infected with HIV, but 44 percent of them did not know it.

“We can’t allow HIV to continue its devastating toll among gay and bisexual men, and in particular, among young black men,” Mermin said in releasing those findings on Sept. 23. “We need to reinvigorate our response to preventing HIV among gay and bisexual men.”

According to the CDC, “Internalized homophobia may impact men’s ability to make healthy choices” involving sex and substance abuse. It also says “stigma and homophobia may limit the willingness of MSM (men who have sex with men) to access HIV prevention and care.” Racism, poverty, and lack of access to health care also are identified as “barriers to HIV prevention services.”

But the CDC also singles out “complacency” as a factor contributing to the rising number of new HIV/AIDS cases among young gay men: “Since young MSM did not experience the severity of the early HIV epidemic, some may falsely believe that HIV is no longer a serious health threat because of treatment advances and decreased mortality. Additional challenges for many MSM include maintaining safe behaviors over time and underestimating personal risk."

The CDC recommends that men who have sex with men be tested for HIV at least annually. Those at increased risk -- men with multiple or anonymous partners, and those who use drugs during sex -- should be tested every three to six months, it says.

September 28, 2010
Co-Habitation in America Jumps Up 13 Percent

(Christian Post)  The number of unmarried couples living together rose 13 percent from the previous year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

This year, there are 7.5 million opposite-sex unmarried couples living together – up from 6.7 million in 2009, reported the bureau on Thursday. The year before had witnessed a two percent drop after a five percent rise in co-habiting couples between 2007 and 2008.

Demographers say a poor job market is likely a factor in the rise of co-habiting couples in 2010.

According to 2010 data, unmarried couples who recently began living together usually have one partner unemployed. Only 49 percent of cohabiting couples this year are ones where both partners are employed. This figure is down from 59 percent in 2008 and 52 percent in 2009.

“Pooling resources by moving in together may be one method of coping with extended unemployment of one of the partners,” said Rose Kreider, a demographer in the Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division at the Census Bureau, according to Agence France-Presse.

Kreider noted the sharp rise in co-habiting this year – three years after the official beginning of the Great Recession, is likely due to people “exhausting” other ways to stay financially afloat – unemployment benefits, saved money, available credit, or assistance from friends and family.

For many churches, the rise in the cohabiting trend is troubling given their belief that couples should live together after marriage.

To combat the trend, some churches have offered free mass weddings to cohabiting couples.

Trinity Fellowship Church, a megachurch in Amarillo, Texas, organized a nearly $3,000 event called “The Big Summer Wedding” last year designed to get couples who are living together to the altar. In total, 32 couples were married by the senior elder at the church.

"Our goal was pretty simple – we wanted to help couples," said Matt Spears, executive pastor of Ministry Development at Trinity, to The Christian Post. “We believe in marriage – one man and one woman – living in covenant with one another.”

Spears lamented over how so many people are living together and having kids together while also, for whatever reason, running away from marriage

“Many couples are not getting married for fear of failure; others are not getting married simply because they do not have the means to do so," he said.

According to the Census Bureau’s latest data there is a much higher rate of cohabiting couples in the South (38 percent) than in the West (23.2 percent), the Midwest ( 15.8 percent), or in the Northeast (15.8 percent). And newly formed cohabiting couples were younger than already established ones.

Meanwhile, the number of same-sex couples living together this year wasn`t statistically different from a 2008 estimate.

September 28, 2010
Transgender senior can`t be king
(WoodTV)  Some Mona Shores High School students say administrators stole the homecoming king throne from the rightful winner -- a transgender senior.

The controversy is playing out in the school`s hallways, and on Facebook.

Some classmates believe the crown belongs to Oakleigh Reed -- who was born as Oakleigh Marie, but who now goes as Oakleigh Marshall, or Oak for short.

In fact, friends have started a Facebook page, titled, "Oak is My King."

"It`s the senior class that votes for their representative," Reed said. "What they did was taking away the voice of the senior class."

Assistant Superintendent Todd Geerlings said the issue is simple: The ballots gave two choices -- vote for a boy for king and a girl for queen.

And, in school records, he said, Oakleigh is still listed as a female.

The 17-year-old says the gender struggle has been life-long -- with sports, family and friends, even band camp. After years of counseling, Oakleigh plans a sex change operation at age 18.

Already, the school has made concessions.

"They let me wear a male tux for band uniform, and they`re going to let me wear the male robe and cap for graduation."

Teachers, Oakleigh said, use male pronouns.

"They call me Oak, and they say, he, him, his," the teen said.

Oak, an honor student, campaigned for homecoming king on Facebook -- a one-day campaign.

"I just said, `Vote for me for homecoming king.` I don`t see why there`s any reasons why someone who`s different shouldn`t be on court. I thought, `Hey, why not put myself out there? I have just as much qualifications as anyone else in the school."

The campaign took off.

"I knew I had a lot of votes because people were telling me in the hallway, `Hey, I voted for you, I voted for you.`"

Oakleigh was overwhelmed by the support of classmates.

Then, last Monday, the principal called Oak into her office.

"They told me that they took me off because they had to invalidate all of my votes because I`m enrolled at Mona Shores as a female," Oakleigh said.

Oakleigh was happy with the support from classmates, but "sometimes it`s nice to have something tangible."

The teen`s mother says she`s angry.

"He was voted for homecoming king and, according to the votes, he should have been homecoming king, and it`s just sad, and it just breaks my heart that all these people all voted and it was taken away, it was completely taken away from him."

The ACLU may enter this case . Oakleigh said he`d be willing to talk with them.

September 28, 2010
4 Arab Fest Street Preachers Acquitted of Peace Disturbing Charges

(Christian Post)  A jury in one of the most densely populated Muslim communities in the United States has acquitted four Christian street preachers of all but one of the charges laid against them earlier this year.

Nabeel Qureshi of Virginia, Negeen Mayel of California, and Paul Rezkalla and David Wood, both of New York, were all acquitted of breaching the peace Friday. Mayel, however, was found guilty of failing to obey a police officer’s order. But her one-day jail sentence was waived for time served.

The four evangelists – associated with Acts 17 Apologetics Ministries – had been arrested back in June as they were attending the 15th Annual Dearborn Arab International Festival along with over 300,000 from across the country.

Though the preachers said they only spoke with people who wanted to speak with them, one of the volunteers at the festival contacted the police and accused the four of disturbing the peace.

The volunteer, Roger Williams of Florida, said Wednesday in his testimony that the group made him "nervous" and that he "felt intimidated." Though Williams’ complaint was the only one police received, the four preachers were approached and soon after arrested for disturbing the peace.

Notably, only one – Qureshi – had actually been engaged in “civilized” conversations with those who approached him after recognizing him from the year before or after catching sight of his shirt, which read “Jesus Always Loves You.” Two others – Wood and Rezkalla – were reportedly only videotaping the dialogues. The fourth – 18-year-old Mayel – was also videotaping, but doing so from afar.

Mayel, who said she was standing around 100 feet away from the others, was charged with failure to obey a police officer`s order after Cpl. Brian Kapanowski told her to put down the camera and she instead held her camera in place as she backed away from him.

"When someone is a subject of an investigation, they have to stop what they`re doing and answer my questions," Kapanowski told jurors Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The four preachers and their attorneys, however, have alleged that the arrests were a "retaliatory action” over last year’s run-in with the ministry, which is led by Qureshi, a former Muslim, and Wood, a former atheist.

Last year, the preachers recorded an “embarrassing video of the strong arm tactics used … by Festival Security Guards," noted Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, which defended the four.

“This time, the first thing police officers did before making the arrests was to confiscate the video cameras in order to prevent a recording of what was actually happening,” he added.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O`Reilly Jr., however, says he believes the preachers were pulling a publicity stunt on YouTube in order raise money.

While he said he respects the jury’s decision, O’Reilly also told the Free Press, “It`s really about a hatred of Muslims.”

"That is what the whole heart of this is,” the mayor said. “Their idea is that there is no place for Muslims in America. They fail to understand the Constitution."

Dearborn, located seven miles west of Detroit, is one of the most densely populated Arab Muslim communities in the United States with nearly 30,000 out of city’s 98,000 inhabitants believed to be Arab Muslims.

The city`s annual Arab festival, which draws hundreds of thousands from across the country, Canada and the Middle-East has also been at the heart of a number of court battles in recent years, particularly over activities of Christians there.

One day before the four preachers were arrested, a federal court panel decided to allow a Sudanese Christian pastor to distribute religious literature and discuss his Christian faith to Muslims attending the large Arab festival while his case is pending on appeal.

Though Pastor George Saieg and his Calif.-based ministry, Arabic Christian Perspective (ACP), had visited Dearborn for the city’s annual Arab festival since 2004, the group was told last year that they had to remain at a specific location and were not allowed to freely travel the public sidewalks to distribute their literature outside the festival.

When the Dearborn Police Department threatened to arrest Saieg if he distributed his religious literature near the 2009 festival, Ann Arbor-based TMLC filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, challenging the constitutionality of Dearborn’s speech restriction.

TMLC argues that the U.S. Constitution “does not allow police to ban the right of free speech just because there are some hecklers.”

The group, furthermore, has insisted that its clients should not even have to stand trial for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Despite TMLC and the street preachers` claims, city officials maintain that incidents such as the one this past June have nothing to do with First Amendment Rights.

"[I]t has to do with public safety and the individual choices made by the arrested parties,” they argued.

September 28, 2010
Trustees decline to change portrayal of Islam

(Orange County Register)  With about 100 people in the audience Thursday night, Fountain Valley School District board members tell activists to find state avenues for any changes in the way Islamic history is taught.

Schools in the Fountain Valley district will not change the way they portray Islamic history to 7th-graders.

After a long, contentious meeting Thursday night, a unanimous school board declined to go further with a proposal by Fountain Valley resident Steve Jackson that they provide supplemental material to the district`s 7th grade social science textbook. Jackson contends the textbook shows a "totally positive view of Islam at the expense of accuracy."

Robert Lauten, center, points his finger at Marc Ecker, superintendent of the Fountain Valley School District, in a heated discussion at the conclusion of the public comments before the Fountain Valley School District Board of Trustees. Lauten, and others, were angry when they learned that the school board would not be voting on the issue regarding the proposed supplementary material on Islam to be added to the 7th grade social science textbook.

After listening to 18 speakers on the matter, board members said they felt they didn`t have the authority to determine whether supplementary material, which had not been state approved, could be used in district classrooms.

"I still feel as trustee and former educator and parent that (this decision) belongs with the Curriculum Commission," said trustee Judith Edwards. "If we start messing with supplementary materials for this textbook we`re going to be doing it for all textbooks."

"Supplementary materials need to come as a whole from state. If we start piecemealing them together... one district at a time we`re going to be in trouble," she added.

The statement was met by groans of disappointment from the audience of about 100, many of whom had come to support the resolution. The crowd had to be silenced on several occasions, with the board bringing in two police officers after hearing public comments to ensure order.

Many in the audience were members of ACT! for America, a national group that advocates against the threat of radical Islam, as well as individuals from throughout Orange County. While other district matters were being addressed, many in attendance spent time flipping through packets of the supplementary material, which had been distributed before the meeting.

Jackson had proposed the materials written by Textbook Alert to be used in conjunction with the state-approved textbook, Houghton-Mifflin Harcourts` "World History: Medieval to Early Modern Times." The material specifically addresses a 55-page section of the textbook regarding Islamic history.

John Shipp, head varsity football coach at Fountain Valley High School, was the first to speak.

"I would like to remind you that many of the students who attend our schools are of the Muslim faith," he said. "Many Muslims have died fighting for this country... Are we now to demonstrate the same intolerance that the extremists demonstrate?"

Shipp went on to state the textbook was "a fine book" for 7th-graders, but also said that he "loved" the supplementary material. He simply did not think the supplementary material was appropriate for junior high.

Fountain Valley resident Bob Cielnicky used part of his allotted speaking time to perform the pledge of allegiance. The board halved the original speaking time for individuals during the public comments section from four to two minutes because of the number of speakers.

"We provide you with free supplemental material," Cielnicky said. "We urge you to implement it. Especially Mr. Ecker."

Superintendent Marc Ecker addressed the crowd near the end of the meeting.

"Quite frankly, common sense rules today," he said. "Unfortunately what we witnessed today were people that would claim that they`re models of this country, but forget what the tenets of the original constitution are based upon and that is the order of law and the appropriate process by which to resolve differences of opinions."

In its supplemental material, Textbook Alert suggests various corrections to the textbook to address what the group believes are inaccuracies regarding Muslims` views on Christians and Jews to interpretations of jihad, or the Arabic word for "struggle." Textbook Alert is an independent think tank with experience in reviewing text books, according to Director Sandra Alfonsi.

Click here to read comparisons between the textbook and Textbook Alert.

Islamic activists have strongly objected to the supplementary materials. Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the material quoted from the Qur`an, but without context.

Katherine H. Smith, a board member of the Anaheim Union District High School District, brought up a different issue Thursday night. She said she wanted to call attention to the Fountain Valley district`s leasing of space to the Institute On Religion and Civic Values, headed by Shabbir Mansuri.

Formerly known as the Council of Islamic Education, the organization works with educators, publishers and policymakers to provide perspective on world religions in educational material.

"I`m sure we don`t rent a room to any group in our school district and it was verified that we didn`t,`` Smith said. "But if we did, I would insist that the Jews would have a room, that the Christians would have a room...and it would be better not to be so cozy with these people and to be separated from them."

Speaking after the meeting, Ecker denied that he had any personal ties to Mansuri and stated his frustration with those who had come to speak.

"I think the people that came here don`t live in this community," he said. "They never had children in the Fountain Valley School District... And this was all about (ACT!) rallying people from around the community... and hinging it on the premise that the board was considering supplemental curriculum that they provided."

Ecker said he hoped Thursday night`s meeting was the board`s last encounter with the group.

"You know the board, I assume, will do the same thing in the future if they ask them to weigh in," he said.

September 28, 2010
Most Britons Still Identify as Christian

(Christian Post)  New figures from the Office for National Statistics has found that most British people still consider themselves to be Christian. The number of homosexuals, meanwhile, is far lower than previously estimated.

According to the office, 71 percent of the population is Christian. The statistic was welcomed by the Evangelical Alliance, which claims to have bolstered the cause for believers to become more open in expressing their faith.

"Christians have increasingly felt bewildered about what they can and cannot say or do," Stephen Cave, advocacy director at the alliance, commented. "Of course faith is personal to each individual but that doesn’t mean to say it’s entirely private – far from it."

"In fact we welcome dialogue with people of all beliefs, including atheists. Where possible we should engage in conversation not confrontation," he added.

"Our challenge now is to demonstrate that being a Christian is much more than belonging to a certain group. Quite simply it’s about making a commitment to Christ and enjoying the freedom of conscience to do that in public life.”

The survey found that the number of people describing themselves as Christian still far outweighs those who say they have no religion, who account for 20.5 percent of the population.

The figures will be good news to those who believe Christianity should still have a prominent role in public life and indicate that affiliation to the faith remains strong in spite of declining church attendance.

Their release comes just one week after the Pope spoke out against the marginalization of Christianity and attempts to push faith into the private sphere.

Still, the percentage of people saying they have no religion has risen from 2001, when 15.1 percent of the population said they had no religious affiliation.

Meanwhile, Muslims make up 4.2 percent of the population, followed by Hindus at 1.4 percent, Sikhs at 0.6 percent, Jewish at 0.5 percent and Buddhists at 0.4 percent.

The Office for National Statistics also revealed that just 1.5 percent said they were gay or bisexual, amounting to only around 750,000 people in the overall population.

The number is far below figures suggested by the government in 2005, which estimated homosexuals in Britain to number around 3.6 million, and gay rights group Stonewall, which previously estimated that between five and seven percent of the adult population in Britain was gay.

Of those who said they were homosexual, 1.3 percent were men and 0.6 percent were women.

Gay rights group Stonewall said it believed the real number of homosexuals could be higher as many of the surveys were conducted over the phone or on doorsteps, possibly discouraging people from giving their real answer.

Mike Judge of the Christian Institute suggested that the government should lower its spending on same-sex issues to reflect the figures.

He told the Daily Mail, “A large amount of public money has been spent on the basis of higher figures, which have turned out to be a lie.”

September 28, 2010
Texas warns book publishers: `No more white-washing Islam`

(WorldNetDaily)  The elected Texas Board of Education today adopted a resolution that warns textbook publishers to be careful and provide fair treatment of the world`s religions – or face being snubbed by the state that buys more textbooks than any other.

The resolution, introduced by former Texas school board member Randy Rives, states: "Resolved, That the SBOE will look to reject future prejudicial social studies submissions that continue to offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world`s major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage space-wise and/or by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others."

The resolution, adopted on a 7-6 vote, declares that "pro-Islamic/anti-Christian half-truths, selective disinformation, and false editorial stereotypes still roil some social studies textbooks nationwide," including some "politically correct whitewashes of Islamic culture and stigmas on Christian civilization."

The resolution included pages of footnotes documenting the specific offenses discovered in various textbooks, including "patterns of pejoratives toward Christians and superlatives toward Muslims, calling Crusaders aggressors, `violent attackers,` or `invaders` while euphemizing Muslim conquest of Christian lands as `migrations` by `empire builders.`"

Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs for the non-profit legal advocacy group Liberty Institute, told WND the vote "sends a strong message that Texas state board members, and really speaking on behalf of the people they represent, care about keeping textbooks accurate."

"They are against religious discrimination. That sends a message," he said. Publishers, he said, "will have to live up to standards."

Saenz said the board, whose members are elected by voters, are serving their responsibility to be a "check" on the products used in the state`s schools.

The resolution discusses world history textbooks officially adopted for use in Texas between 1999 and 2002, which may still be in some classrooms. The resolution also discusses textbooks used in other parts of the country. In Texas, world history textbooks are used at the high school level.

The resolution pointed out grounds for board concerns.

"In one instance, devoting 120 student text lines to Christian beliefs, practices, and holy writings but 248 (more than twice as many) to those of Islam; and dwelling for 27 student text lines on Crusaders` massacre of Muslims at Jerusalem in 1099 yet censoring Muslims` massacres of Christians there in 1244 and at Antioch in 1268, implying that Christian brutality and Muslim loss of life are significant but Islamic cruelty and Christian deaths are not."

Another point of contention is book authors "spending 139 student text lines on Christian beliefs, practices, and holy writings but 176 on those of Islam; claiming Islam `brought untold wealth to thousands and a better life to millions,` while `because of [Europeans` Christian] religious zeal … many peoples died and many civilizations were destroyed;` and contrasting `the Muslim concern for cleanliness` with Swedes in Russia who were `the filthiest of God`s creatures.`"

The resolution noted the state`s law requires reinforcement of "the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage," along with the requirement that "no instructional material may be adopted that contains content that clearly conflicts with the stated purpose of the Texas Education Code."

One book that was examined was "World History, Patterns of Interaction" published by McDougal. The footnotes noted that it has been reported that the Dubai royal family was a "major shareholder" in the Education Media and Publishing Group, which controls textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

"We`re just trying to protect the school children of Texas," Rives told WND in preparation for the vote. "We have documented that in the past there was some pro-Islamic and anti-Christian literature in some of our textbooks. We want to put textbook companies on notice that if this happens again, it can cause your textbooks to be rejected."

Rives also noted the prominent national role Texas plays in textbook disputes.

"We are the largest buyer of textbooks in the United States, and publishers like to try to get others states to accept the same version [we use]. What we do in Texas influences the rest of the nation, and we need to take that seriously and make sure an agenda isn`t pushed through the textbooks."

Rives told Alana Goodman of the Alexandria, Va.-based Culture and Media Institute, "In the social studies books we need to make sure that our democratic values are depicted and that`s not just my opinion, that`s what the Texas education code says."

Much to the dismay of the Dallas Morning News, the resolution also warns that "more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly, as they are now doing."

DMN`s Terrence Stutz reported that the resolution "offered no specific evidence of such investments," despite the footnote regarding the Dubai royal family.

As WND reported, American public school textbooks have been used to promote Islam, and publishing company executives are primarily responsible for the content of the texts.

September 28, 2010
Atheist`s worst nightmare takes apart Hawking`s `design` flaws

(WorldNetDaily)  God didn`t create the universe, Stephen Hawking says in his latest book, "A Grand Design."

Rather, the renowned physicist writes, "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing."

Everything – created from nothing? The assertion begged a reply from the author of "Nothing Created Everything: The Scientific Impossibility of Atheistic Evolution."

"It is embarrassingly unscientific to speak of anything creating itself from nothing," said Ray Comfort, a best-selling author and acclaimed minister who`s confronted and confounded some of the world`s most accomplished atheists. "Common sense says that if something possessed the ability to create itself from nothing, then that something wasn`t nothing; it was something – a very intelligent creative power of some sort."

Hawking commits several "greater fallacies of logic," says Comfort.

"Hawking has violated the unspoken rules of atheism," he said. "He isn`t supposed to use words like `create` or even `made.` They necessitate a creator and a maker. Neither is he supposed to let out that the essence of atheism is to believe that nothing created everything, because it`s unthinking. It confirms the title of another book I wrote, called `You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can`t Make Him Think.`"

Comfort continues his dissection: "Nor should an atheist speak of gravity as being a `law,` because that also denotes the axiom of a Law-giver. Laws don`t happen by themselves. But look at how careless the professor was with his, `The Big Bang was the result of the inevitable laws of physics and did not need God to spark the creation of the Universe.`"

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Philosopher Roger Scruton noted that same carelessness in a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal.

"If Mr. Hawking is right, the answer to the question `What created the universe?` is `the laws of physics.` But what created the laws of physics? How is it that these strange and powerful laws, and these laws alone, apply to the world?" Scruton asks.

The apparent contradictions even caught the attention of the Huffington Post`s Ervin Laszlo.

"To answer `why` our universe `created itself` the way it did is beyond science. To say that it did so spontaneously is not an answer: It`s an excuse for an answer," said Laszlo, who`s described as a "systems philosopher and integral theorist."

"When Hawking says that the spontaneous self-creation of the universe `out of nothing` is evidence that a creator was not involved, he is not speaking as a scientist," Lazlo continued. "He is not making a scientific statement. His statement is pure theology – of the negative kind typical of atheists. To deny the existence of a transcendental creator is just as much an act of faith as to affirm it."

Still, many commenting on Hawking`s writings predict that few esteemed peers will critically examine his exclusion of a creator in the creation process.

Brian Melton, an author and assistant professor at Liberty University, wrote in Intellectual Conservative, "In the end, I have no doubt that Hawking`s statements will settle little, if any, of the debate. … True believers in Scientism will accept anything he says that removes God from the picture with little to no critical evaluation, because they believe such statements to be inherently axiomatic, and those who disagree (myself included) won`t be satisfied until the bigger questions that Hawking is apparently avoiding are at least put on the table for honest debate."

Comfort`s career solidifies his penchant for debate. He famously challenged celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins to a debate and threw in $10,000 – no matter the outcome – as an enticement (Dawkins countered he`d participate for $100,000).

Comfort also created an international storm of angry protest from the atheist community in 2009 by giving out 170,000 copies of Charles Darwin`s "Origin of Species" to 170,000 students at 100 of the top universities in the United States, England, Australia and New Zealand.

The outrage? The book contained a 50-page foreword, in which Comfort made the case for creationism.

Comfort teams with actor Kirk Cameron to host the popular television series, "The Way of The Master," which appears on Trinity Broadcasting Network, Christian Television Network, among other media outlets, and is viewed in more than 100 countries.

Comfort is also writing a series of books on men who – for good or evil – changed the course of history. With research that deconstructs what each man believed about God, the series will include Hitler, Churchill, Ghandi, the Beatles and Einstein.

Einstein, Comfort recalled, famously remarked that he wanted to know the mind of God.

In 1988, Hawking wrote in his book "A Brief History of Time" that "if we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God."

"Both men can easily find the mind of God and through it see how we were created: `In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,` something of which we were reminded when the first manned mission to the moon read from Genesis chapter one," Comfort said. "We need to read it again."

Young people especially need to read it, Comfort said.

"This generation is having an atheist revival, because they have been fed the lie that atheism is intelligent, when it`s obviously not," he said. "We are hoping that this series of books will give them the perspective they are missing."

He also said he knows what won`t be missing is the "obligatory resistance."

"No doubt there will be opposition to the series, because atheists are afraid of their core beliefs being exposed," he said. "That`s why they tried to stop us giving out Darwin`s book and flooded Amazon and gave my books low reviews. No one likes to be seen as a fool, but that`s what they are."

September 24, 2010
Pulpit Freedom Sunday has Christian leaders challenge government censorship

(WorldNetDaily)  At least 100, and perhaps as many as several hundred, Christian pastors on Sunday will speak out on biblical issues and the political candidates on the November election ballot in direct violation of Internal Revenue Service regulations.

Then they`ll package up recordings or transcripts of their sermons and send them to the IRS, with a dare to the government agency to come after them for their comments.

Ministers, although smaller in numbers, have done exactly that for the last two years. But of all the direct violations of the IRS ban on ministers addressing politics from their pulpits, only one investigation was begun, and it was dropped almost immediately, according to Kevin Theriot, a senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is organizing this year`s Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

The essence of the program is to create a challenge to the IRS rules adopted in 1954 at the behest of then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson that prohibit any speech from a church pulpit favoring or opposing a political candidate.

The rules were adopted after Johnson found himself bearing the brunt of critical comments from Christian pastors concerned about his behavior in Washington.

Before then, according to the ADF, pastors spoke freely from their pulpits even about specific candidates, issues and elections.

"The IRS should not be used as a political tool to advance the agenda of radical groups bent on silencing the voice of the church and inhibiting religious freedom," Erik Stanley, also a senior counsel for the ADF, said. "It is ironic that a group with a name like `Americans United for Separation of Church and State` continues to exploit a scheme of massive government monitoring and surveillance of churches."

He said the real impact of the rules adopted under Johnson`s leadership is that pastors are muzzling themselves for fear of an IRS investigation.

"Rather than risk confrontation, many pastors have self-censored their speech, afraid to apply the teachings of Scripture to specific candidates or elections. As in years past, the participants in Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2010 are taking a stand against being intimidated into sacrificing their First Amendment rights," he said.

The event was the focus of a recent conversation between Fox News host Glenn Beck and David Barton of the Wallbuilders organization that documents the nation`s Christian heritage:

In 2008, there were nearly three dozen pastors from 22 states involved in the effort. The pastors made specific suggestions for the election ballot based on the candidates` positions on biblical issues.

Then they took their sermons and sent them to the IRS, hoping to spark an audit that could be used as a constitutional challenge to the regulations.

Nothing happened.

In 2009, there were some 84 pastors participating.

Theriot told WND the IRS is in an even smaller box this year, because of the U.S. Supreme Court`s ruling in Citizens United, which determined that businesses could not even be told what they can or cannot say.

"This is a really tough one for the IRS. They`re telling pastors what they can and cannot say from the pulpit," he said. "I think the IRS realizes they`ve got a serious constitutional issue here."

The Pulpit Freedom Sunday is part of the ADF Pulpit Initiative, which is set up to secure First Amendment rights of pastors in the pulpit.

It`s all part of the ADF Church Project.

"Pastors and churches shouldn`t live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government – in this case, the IRS," said Stanley. "ADF is not trying to get politics into the pulpit; we want to get government out of the pulpit. Churches should be allowed to decide for themselves what they want to talk about. The IRS should not be the one making the decision by threatening to revoke a church`s tax-exempt status."

ADF said organizations such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State have taken advantage of the vagueness of the tax law and have reported churches to the IRS in an attempt to remove their tax-exempt status.

One recent example is Americans United`s complaint against Pastor H. Wayne Williams of South Dakota, who voiced his preference for a particular candidate for governor.

WND also reported when the IRS closed an investigation into a Minnesota pastor`s sermons from just before the 2008 election that addressed the moral qualifications of the political candidates.

According to a letter posted online by ADF, the Dallas, Texas, office of the IRS notified Warroad Community Church in Warroad, Minn., the review was being closed.

"The IRS may commence a future inquiry to address the concerns described … after it resolves [a] procedural issue," said the letter, signed by Sunita B. Lough.

ADF said Pastor Gus Booth had preached on moral issues as a part of the Alliance Defense Fund`s Pulpit Initiative that year.

"Booth originally sent the IRS a copy of a sermon he preached in May 2008 with regard to the primary elections. After participating in the Pulpit Initiative`s Pulpit Freedom Sunday Sept. 28, Booth also sent the agency his sermon regarding the general election. After launching an audit of the church in August 2008, the IRS has now stated in a letter that it is closing its examination of the sermons due to a procedural problem," ADF said.

In a WND column, Dave Welch, founder of the U.S. Pastor Council, condemned the current opinions of many pastors, such as, "I can`t be too political because I have both Democrats and Republicans in my church."

Or, "We should focus on evangelism and not get caught up in politics."

Instead, he said, the more accurate perspective is from Ellis Sandoz, whose book "Political Sermons of the Founding Era" sheds light on the issue.

There, he wrote, "The political culture of this country was not only all the things it is most frequently said to be … but was deeply rooted in the core religious consciousness articulated above all by the preachers; theirs were pulpits of a new nation with a privileged, providential role in world history.

"The collapse of sound theology in regards to the role Christians play in general and that the pulpits serve in particular as anchors to `the laws of Nature and of Nature`s God` is still a primary root cause of the disconnect between Christians and our suffrage," Welch continued.

"What our founders understood was that our vote is a trust of authority given by God to another person to use that authority for God`s purpose. What most Christians today believe is that to vote is an optional act that we perform if convenient and largely driven by our own needs, desires and views," he said. "Hence, a person who claims to be Christian can vote for a Barack Hussein Obama, the singularly most dedicated Marxist and anti-American and most unqualified president to hold the executive office in our history. Even more common are the Christians who vote by their glaring absence – they just don`t show up.

"The bottom line is that the pulpits of this nation had better get back to the business of preaching the undiluted, uncompromised word of God as applied to all vital current issues and then demand that Christians vote those principles," he said.

WND reported earlier when the IRS said it was dropping a two-year investigation into a Kansas church over similar issues.

As WND reported, Wichita, Kan., Pastor Mark Holick`s church, Spirit One Christian Center, was targeted by the IRS in April 2007 for "engaging in political activities."

One of his messages said then-Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius "accepted $100,000 from abortionist (George) Tiller, price of 1,000 babies." A separate posting repeated President Obama`s statement from a campaign speech about sex education: "I don`t want [my daughters] punished with a baby."

The notice Holick received from the IRS warned him about putting his Christian beliefs on the sign, and he responded that he would continue to preach the Word of God.

He explained the signs "are spiritual messages that communicate God`s truth or are directly related to messages in the Bible." He also provided the IRS with a list of dozens of biblical instructions, including "to lift up Jesus, to rebuke sin, to save babies, to be honest, to take a righteous stand."

September 24, 2010
`In God We Trust` on display in CA city
Becky Yeh - OneNewsNow California correspondent

A mayor in Southern California says if someone wants to complain about his community`s display of the national motto, "let them file suit."

A California city voted 4-0 this week in favor of displaying the national motto in its city hall. With the help of Mayor Bill Kruger, Chino Hills will proudly display the words "In God We Trust" on a wall behind the council dais. The aluminum lettering will soon be on display in the octagonal room that seats about 100 people, so an audience facing council members will be able to see the motto. Kruger says this is something he has wanted to do for a long time.

"I just went to the city manager and I said, `Look, it`s time to get back to what America is," he explains. "I`m the mayor here, and I want to put it on the agenda for city council. We approved the whole thing. It`s a done deal in one council meeting; we did it as a one-stop deal."

The Chino Hills mayor received overwhelming support from the school district, the school board, the fire district, and surrounding churches to have the placard. Meanwhile, only one man spoke out in opposition.

Dennis Yates, mayor of neighboring Chino, recently approved a similar display. "One of the council members requested the city manager to put it on the wall," Yates explains. "The city manager can sign contracts up to $25,000, and this thing didn`t cost much, so I said, `Put it up.`"

He also affirms that the city of Chino still holds prayer before city council meetings -- a privilege Kruger hopes to reinstate back into his city`s council meetings.

Though federal law forbids council meetings from mentioning God or any deity during invocations, the Chino Hills` mayor thinks it is time to get prayer in public office "going again."

"The bottom line is that some places have done it," Kruger points out. "I was raised in a Christian family and going to church, [but the current law] doesn`t let us represent our religion; it doesn`t let us be politically free. If someone complains, let them file suit."

The Christian official assures that he will continue to fight for religious freedom in his city. "We are going to do it, we are glad to do it [and] we are happy to do it -- so let`s get on with it," he urges.

September 24, 2010
Defense bill reflected Dems` radical abortion agenda
(OneNewsNow)  "An abomination" -- that`s how a national defense analyst describes Democrats` recent attempt to allow abortions on military bases, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Conservatives are celebrating following Tuesday`s failure by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to pass, at least for now, the Defense Authorization bill that contained three highly controversial amendments:

Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis (USA-Ret.) finds the idea of turning military hospitals into abortion mills reprehensible. "I`ve been working that issue for most of the last 20 years," he tells OneNewsNow, "and I have yet to find a medical physician in the armed forces who favored this particular decision."
 
Maginnis says female service members seeking abortions have always had access to civilian clinics in Germany and elsewhere. "We have spent millions of dollars to ship those young women out of war zones -- and yes, they do get pregnant in war zones, and it`s not by their husbands," he adds.
 
Evidently, adds the Pentagon advisor, that is not good enough for President Obama. "To turn a military hospital -- which is supposed to be a place for healing for military personnel and their families -- into an abortion mill is an abomination," exclaims Maginnis. "And that`s something that we should never tolerate."
 
And yet the White House seems to have no problem with it, notes Maginnis. "...As radic
Defense bill reflected Dems` radical abortion agendaal as they are on the homosexual issue, they`re also radical on killing the unborn -- and they would do many other things as well," he remarks. "And that`s why I believe the American people have come to their senses -- and by large numbers they want to replace this Congress.
 
"...My only regret is that we can`t replace the president this year as well."

September 24, 2010
`Planned Parenthood Aborts African Americans`: New Mass Media Campaign

(LifeSiteNews)  A new mass media campaign is hoping to shed light on Planned Parenthood’s racist roots and continued targeting of black communities.  The PPAbortsAA campaign (“Planned Parenthood Aborts African Americans”) is aimed at getting the message out to a wide audience through billboards in large cities and TV ads on popular channels.

“When you look at the numbers, it’s absolutely astounding the lie that’s been given to African Americans - that this is really good for them,” said Kimberly Speirs, a spokesperson for PPAbortsAA.org.

African American babies are three times more likely to be aborted than white babies, according to data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control.  Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, the black population in the U.S. has been reduced by over 25 percent.

Planned Parenthood is accused of targeting black communities because 62-78% of their facilities are in minority neighbourhoods, depending on how the data is interpreted.

PPAbortsAA.org notes that this targeting of blacks was part of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s plan from the beginning.  “Colored people are like human weeds and are to be exterminated,” said the famed eugenicist and leader of the Negro Project, which was designed to curtail the black population.

The campaign organizers have been able to get their ads on BET (Black Entertainment Television), and they are available through their website, but other mainstream media outlets in New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston have refused to run them.

“It looks like the mainstream media is more interested in protecting Planned Parenthood than they are in educating African American women about the truth of abortion,” said Speirs.

She said it is clear from Planned Parenthood’s own statistics that they favor abortion over other options.  She noted, for example, that in 2007 they aborted 305,310 babies in the U.S., but only made 4,912 adoption referrals.

“Most women who are abortion-minded, they don’t want abortion, they just don’t know what else is out there,” she said.  “Once you let them know all the positive, hopeful, beautiful alternatives available for them ... they almost always choose life.”

“It’s so heartbreaking that so many African American lives have been snuffed out because of the deception that they’ve been sold,” said Speirs.  “We just think that they want to know the truth about this issue.  I think Afircan American women primarily want to know that they and their babies are being targeted.”

See the PPAbortsAA.org campaign here.

September 24, 2010
Poll: 77 Percent of Evangelicals Believe Abortion is Morally Wrong

(LifeSiteNews)  The National Association of Evangelicals has released a new poll showcasing Evangelicals’ overall commitment to traditional Christian morality and opposition to abortion.

The Gallup poll, commissioned by the NAE, found that 76 percent of Evangelicals believe sex between an unmarried man and woman is morally wrong, 77 percent believe abortion is morally wrong, and 79 percent say that having a baby outside of wedlock is also morally wrong. A high 87 percent of Evangelicals also said that teen pregnancy is morally wrong.

But the NAE also noted that pastors may have a challenge on their hands when it comes to the pastoral care of unmarried women who become pregnant and then fear that having the baby will lead to rejection from the church community.

“We need to encourage couples to courageously and responsibly honor the gifts of sex and life,” said Aaron Mercer, NAE Generation Forum Project Director. “The Bible’s standard for sex is very clear: abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within it.”

“But when unmarried individuals do have sex and end up conceiving, might they fear rejection from their church family whether or not they carry the baby to term? Whether or not this fear is warranted, we need to consider its possible consequences,” continued Mercer.

The NAE poll also indicated that church communities have confidence in their pastors, and look up to them to engage the challenges of unmarried and teen pregnancy and abortion within their communities.

Approximately 89 percent said they would go to their pastors or other leaders in their church for advice or counseling if they were having problems in a relationship or marriage.

But at the same time respondents said that national leaders were not doing nearly as good a job at addressing the issues of abortion and unplanned pregnancy as local pastors.

On the issue of unplanned pregnancies, only eight percent said national leaders were doing a “very good job” and 18 percent said they were doing a “good job.” National leaders fared little better when it came to abortion: just nine percent said they did a “very good job” addressing the topic, while 21 percent said they did a “good job.”

Local pastors got higher marks: 38 percent said their local pastors were doing a “very good job” talking about abortion, while 29 percent said they were doing a “good job.”

“This data should be a call to action for national religious leaders to more productively engage on this country’s terrible abortion problem,” observed Mercer. “It is also a reminder to local pastors that they are on the front lines. They have the confidence of their congregations and the relationships with their neighbors needed for real success in lowering the abortion rate in their local communities.”

See full poll results here.

September 24, 2010
Panel: School Discriminated Against Transgender 6th Grader by Not Letting Student Use Girls` Room

(FoxNews)  The Maine Human Rights Commission has ruled that a middle school discriminated against a sixth grader by not letting the male-to-female transgender student use the girls` bathroom.

The parents of the child, who no longer attends school in the district, wrote to the commission that she experienced anxiety and depression during the 2008-2009 year after Orono Middle School officials forced her to use a gender-neutral bathroom and her peers picked on her.

The school stated the district trained the staff, educated students, gave the transgender student her own bathroom and locker, and met with her parents.

The Bangor Daily News reports the district is fighting a lawsuit filed by the child
s family in Penobscot County Superior Court.

September 24, 2010
Court lifts ban on `gay` adoption in Florida
(OneNewsNow)  The Third District Appeals Court noted in its ruling on Wednesday that Florida is the only remaining state to ban adoption by homosexual men and women without exception, and it declared that there is no rational reason to prohibit all homosexuals from adopting. Governor Charlie Crist, who is currently seeking a U.S. Senate seat, said shortly thereafter that his state will immediately stop enforcing the three-decade-old ban. But for the law to be struck down, the state`s Supreme Court must rule on the matter.

"This decision, I believe, will be overturned on appeal by the Florida Supreme Court, but we must ensure that the [Florida] attorney general appeals this case," contends Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver. "I think that`s [why] we need to have people call and ask him to appeal this case to the Florida Supreme Court."

Prior to the Third District Court of Appeals` decision, the Department of Children and Families argued that placing children in non-homosexual households, preferably with a husband and wife as parents, would mean they would have better role models and face less discrimination. But the court decided that goal was already not being accomplished since the 33-year-old statute allowed single people to adopt.

Staver believes the lawsuit has a bearing on the future of Floridians and their families.

"This law that bans adoption among people who are actively engaged in homosexuality has the best interest of children in mind because the Florida legislators wanted to make sure that children are placed in homes where there is a potential for a mother and a father, yet homosexual adoption precludes children from ever having the opportunity of an opposite-gender parent," the Liberty Counsel founder laments.

He notes that even though the attorney general has a constitutional duty to defend state law, that does not mean he will do it. He cites the refusal by California Attorney General Jerry Brown to take a stand for Proposition 8 as an example.

September 24, 2010
Briefs quote Obama in calling for `morality` in Prop 8 case

(WorldNetDaily)  A team of attorneys representing ProtectMarriage.com, the organization that staged a successful campaign in 2008 to have California voters define marriage as being between one man and one woman, have submitted their opening briefs to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering a district judge`s opinion that such a decision is improper.

And they`re quoting President Barack Obama, who has promised homosexual activists that he`ll work to eliminate barriers to which they object in society, in support of a moral basis for the institution that is credited with being the building block of all society.

The filing today came from the Alliance Defense Fund, which noted that the ruling from Judge Vaughn Walker, a homosexual, violates every precedent around.

"The district court decision conflicts with every other appellate court ruling on the federal constitutionality of marriage, including the U.S. Supreme Court," said senior counsel Brian Raum. "The decision is an attack on the many judges and lawmakers and millions of Americans who rightly and reasonably understand that marriage is the unique union of a man and a woman."

He said, "The Hollywood-funded opposition wants to impose – through a San Francisco court – an agenda that America has repeatedly rejected. In America, we should respect and uphold the right of the people to make policy choices through the democratic process – especially ones that do nothing more than uphold the definition of marriage that has existed since the foundation of the country and beyond."

The brief even quoted Obama in establishing the body of authority that a moral issue such as marriage certainly can be addressed in the law.

It quoted from his 2006 address regarding renewal, where he said:

"[S]ecularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, William Jennings Bryabn, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause," Obama said at the time. "So to say that men and women should not inject their `personal moralitiy` into public policy debates is a practical absurdity.

"Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition."

"This is especially true of marriage, which the Supreme Court has long recognized has `more to do with the morals and civilization of a people than any other institution,`" the brief says.

However, the district judge had said neither "ethical and moral principles" nor "religious beliefs" have any legitimate role in his redefinition of marriage.

"As with other issues that are inextricably intertwined with moral values, such as the death penalty, gambling, prostitution, polygamy, and assisted suicide, legislation regarding marriage must inevitably choose between, or attempt to balance, competing moral views," the brief said.

The 134-page brief explained how the court has jurisdiction, the proponents having standing to participate in the case, Proposition 8 does not violate homosexuals` "fundamental right to marry," and the voter-approved measure "furthers California`s vital interest in responsible procreation and childrearing."

Oral arguments are scheduled the week of Dec. 6.

Walker, among other comments, had said marriage between a husband and a wife is "an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage" but that time has gone.

He also suggested the genders of "parents" are irrelevant to children.

The brief also argued that the district judge refused to include any mention of Baker v. Nelson, "the controlling U.S. Supreme Court precedent for the legal issues."

"And it defames as anti-gay bigots not only seven million California voters, but everyone else in this country, and elsewhere, who believes that the traditional opposite-sex definition of marriage continues to meaningfully serve the legitimate interests of society – from the current president of the United States, to a large majority of legislators throughout the nation, both in statehouses and in the United States Congress, and even to most of the scores of state and federal judges who have addressed the issue," the brief explains.

An analyst noted that the fall of marriage could very well be key to the battle for America`s democratic system of government and religious liberty.

According to the ADF, among the issues that realistically would be impacted by the case include whether voters can decide through the democratic process that marriage between a man and a woman should be protected, whether a small core of activists can overturn the will of the majority and whether marriage will remain a unique institution for families.

Also filing a brief in the case was the organization called Advocates for Faith and Freedom, which is representing officials in Imperial County.

"The people of California have now acted twice in exercising their initiative power to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. The people`s vote has twice been challenged in the California Supreme Court and is now being challenged in the federal courts. It is a long held principle in California that it is `the duty of the courts to jealously guard the right of the people` to exercise their initiative power, which is described as `one of the most precious rights of our democratic process,` the filing states.

"The district court in this case failed to recognize his role as a judge as opposed to a policy maker. Before this court is an opportunity to restore the vote of over 7 million Californians by applying rational basis review, while exercising appropriate judicial restraint," it said.

Proposition 8 was passed by voters in 2008. In his Aug. 4 decision, Walker declared it violates the rights of homosexuals under the federal Constitution.

Walker`s decision ignored the terse warning contained in state Supreme Court Justice Marvin Baxter`s dissenting opinion in the 2008 state case on same-sex "marriage." Baxter warned of the "legal jujitsu" required to establish same-sex "marriage" by court order just a few months before California voters passed Proposition 8 and amended the constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

"The bans on incestuous and polygamous marriages are ancient and deeprooted, and, as the majority suggests, they are supported by strong considerations of social policy," Baxter warned in his dissent. "Our society abhors such relationships, and the notion that our laws could not forever prohibit them seems preposterous. Yet here, the majority overturns, in abrupt fashion, an initiative statute confirming the equally deeprooted assumption that marriage is a union of partners of the opposite sex. The majority does so by relying on its own assessment of contemporary community values, and by inserting in our Constitution an expanded definition of the right to marry that contravenes express statutory law.

"Who can say that, in 10, 15 or 20 years, an activist court might not rely on the majority`s analysis to conclude, on the basis of a perceived evolution in community values, that the laws prohibiting polygamous and incestuous marriages were no longer constitutionally justified?" Baxter wrote. That state court decision was overturned by voters a few months later.

According to Staff Counsel Jim Campbell of the Alliance Defense Fund, one of the organizations arguing on behalf of traditional marriage advocate ProtectMarriage.com, the case really has just begun with Walker`s ruling.

Charles Cooper, the lead counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, has said, "The decision whether to redefine marriage is for the people themselves to make, not a single district court judge, especially without appellate scrutiny."

The ADF noted some of Walker`s far-reaching conclusions that opined marriage could not be limited to one man and one woman:

  • "Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians."

  • "Rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed."

  • "The gender of a child`s parent is not a factor in a child`s adjustment."

  • "The evidence shows beyond any doubt that parents` genders are irrelevant to children’s developmental outcomes."

  • "Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals."

  • "Many of the purported interests identified by proponents are nothing more than a fear or unarticulated dislike of same-sex couples."

Liberty Counsel has called the ruling "outrageous."

"This is a classic example of radical individualism and judicial activism. Judge Walker obviously has not learned the lesson of 2008, when the California Supreme Court refused to stay its decision on marriage. That decision was reversed in short order, but it caused a huge disruption," said chief Mathew Staver.

The American Family Association has launched an action alert to its several million supporters calling for the impeachment of Walker.

The alert asks supporters to contact their members of Congress and demand his removal.

"What you have here is a federal judge using the power of his position to legitimize what is sexually aberrant behavior," Bryan Fischer, an analyst for the organization, told WND. "He`s trampling on the will of 7 million voters in California. It`s just a gross breach of his judicial responsibility.

"We think of it as an expression of judicial tyranny, judicial activism on steroids," he said.

The organization`s action alert offers to constituents an option to track down their representatives in Washington and contact them directly on the issue.

September 24, 2010
Helena School Board releases revised sex-ed plan

(KRTV)  After receiving over 7,000 comments on a proposed health education plan that contained controversial sections relating to sex education, the Helena School Board has released a revised copy of the curriculum.

The draft revision addressed the controversial human sexuality section and now includes the district`s entire harassment policy instead of singling out harassment due to sexual orientation.


The requirement for a student to name reproductive organs was moved from kindergarten to fourth grade.


The portion which would have taught that human beings can love people of both the same gender and opposite gender was taken out of the curriculum altogether, but it was added that a child should know that family structures may differ.


Teaching abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases was added in grades five through 12.


During a Tuesday night meeting of the board, Helena High School teacher Don Pogreba said, "Some of the statements that were blown out of proportion and blown up by the media in negative ways should have remained and the distortions shouldn`t have lead to changes in the curriculum."


Parent Mikal Wilkerson said, "I thought there were some things that were taken out that were great. I also think that a lot of it was restated, that it didn`t change a whole lot."


The school board will take public comment on the curriculum at its next meeting on September 28th.


Click here
to view the revised curriculum on the school`s website (PDF).

September 24, 2010
Texas Edu Board Considers Ban on `Pro-Islamic, Anti-Christian` Textbooks

(Christian Post)  The Texas State Board of Education is scheduled to consider a resolution Friday that would ban “pro-Islamic, anti-Christian” textbooks.

Randy Rives, who authored the resolution, contends some past Texas social studies textbooks were favorably biased toward Islam – devoting more text lines to the religion than Christianity and praising Muslims as “empire builders” while criticizing Crusaders as “violent attackers.”

Other critical allegations include one against the “sanitized” wording that some textbooks use in defining jihad, which reportedly exclude religious intolerance and aggression against non-Muslims, and “whitewashes” Islamic culture.

“There’s a problem. There’s bias in the books,” said board member Don McLeroy, who supports the resolution, according to the Houston Chronicles. “We need to bring attention to it.”

According to the draft resolution, the State Board of Education (SBOE) is being called to enforce “the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage” and to reject “future prejudicial” social studies textbooks that treats the world’s major religions unequally in space coverage or by “demonizing” one over the other.

SBOE Chairwoman Gail Lowe said she has received about 30 letters and e-mails about the resolution, with all except one supporting it.

But, elsewhere, the resolution has sparked strong reaction from opponents, who accuse it of spreading misinformation and promoting religious intolerance.

In a news conference Monday, an interfaith group in Austin, Texas, released an open letter signed by nearly 100 religious leaders asking SBOE’s 15 member panel to reject the “inflammatory” resolution.

“We believe this resolution is a thinly veiled attempt to generate fear and promote religious intolerance, which as we have sadly seen before in history, can quickly lead to violence,” the letter states. “And we ask you to keep this sort of bigotry out of the headlines – and out of our textbooks – in Texas.”

Some of the signers of the open letter include the Rev. Larry Bethune, senior pastor at University Baptist Church in Austin; the Rev. Bobbi Kaye Jones, district superintendent of the Austin District of the United Methodist Church; and Rabbi Neil Blumofe of the Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin.

News conference organizer Texas Freedom Network – a group that seeks to counter the religious right on issues of religious freedom and individual liberties – reviewed the textbooks and accused the drafter of the resolution of ignoring sections of the textbooks that focus on Christianity. It says the textbooks include passages on the Reformation, Christian influences during the Renaissance, the Holy Roman Empire, and church reform, among other topics that the resolution failed to mention.

The group also points out that the textbooks cited by the resolution are no longer used in Texas classrooms and have not been since 2003. But proponents of the resolution say they are using old textbooks to make a point and try to prevent such books from being used in Texas classrooms in the future.

Texas Freedom Network also argues that its analysis shows the resolution to be based on claims that are “superficial” and “grossly misleading.”

“This resolution is another example of state board members putting politics ahead of expertise and refusing to consider the advice of real scholars before doing something provocative and divisive,” states the network, which strongly opposed new public school curriculum standards for social studies courses that were approved earlier this year.

Critics also highlight that resolution drafter Randy Rives offers no evidence to back up his claim that Middle Eastern investors in the U.S. public school textbook “oligopoly” will lead to “more such discriminatory treatment of religion.”

Notably, Rives, a former Ector (Odessa) Independent School District board president, is not on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). He ran for a seat on the board in the Republican primary but lost.

The Muslim-Christian bias in textbooks is the latest controversy involving the Texas State Board of Education. In May, the SBOE approved new social studies courses that emphasized the role of Christianity in society, government and history. Opponents of the overhaul argue that the revisions promote religious and political ideologies, emphasizing that conservative Christians were the force behind the changes.

Texas’ textbook debates tend to attract national attention because the state’s decision will likely impact the rest of the nation. Texas is the second-largest textbook market in the country, behind California.

September 24, 2010
Christian Groups Hail Vote Blocking DADT Repeal

(Christian Post)  "This is a victory for the men and women who serve our nation in uniform," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. "At least for now they will not be used to advance a radical social agenda."

 

Legislation to eliminate the Clinton-era policy barring openly gay individuals from serving in the military was tacked on to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. Republicans filibustered debate on the bill.

Democrats have vowed to try to pass the legislation later this year, following the fall elections.

Pop star Lady Gaga has waded into the debate. She expressed her opposition to the policy at a rally in Maine on Monday ahead of the Senate vote.

"I thought equality was non-negotiable," she proclaimed, as reported by Time magazine. "`Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell` is wrong, it`s unjust and fundamentally it is against all we stand for as Americans."

FRC`s Perkins chided Democratic leadership for taking their cues from the pop sensation.

"It`s a sad commentary on our Congressional leadership when they pay more attention to an entertainer with a flair for the bizarre than they do to the leaders of all four service branches," Perkins said.

Just before the vote, Gen. James Amos, incoming commandant of the Marine Corps, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he doesn`t think lawmakers should repeal the policy.

Lifting the ban could disrupt cohesion during ongoing combat operations and affect morale, Amos said.

FRC and other conservative groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, have also made the case that repealing DADT would strain American forces, weaken troop morale, and compel countless chaplains to leave the services.

"We do not believe it is in our nation’s best interest to allow those who engage in homosexual behavior to serve in the military," said Dr. Richard Land, president of the ERLC, in a letter to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. "As stated in the findings of the law, passed with bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate and signed by President Clinton, there is no constitutional right to serve in the military."

"The admission of openly homosexual individuals into the military would engender sexual tension and thereby negatively impact troop morale, unit cohesion, and order," he further contended.

Conservative groups have also opposed a provision in the Defense Authorization bill that would allow elective abortions on military bases.

Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, commented, "Senate Democrats tried to covertly hijack good legislation with provisions that are harmful to families and unborn children. The military is supposed to protect and defend, not take away lives of those most innocent. To permit military health facilities to perform abortions would have been an affront to the very mission of the organization."

She hailed Tuesday`s vote as "a great victory for conservative values."

September 24, 2010
Children of divorce vow to break cycle, create enduring marriages

(CNN)  By the time Zulema Green turned 12, her mother had been divorced three times.

Her husband, Cory Green, was 3 when his father abandoned his family.

As the Georgia couple recently celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary at an upscale restaurant overlooking Atlanta, their milestone represented a far more personal challenge for each of them: They didn`t follow their parents` footsteps.

"I figured I can get married," says Zulema Green, now a 31-year-old attorney. "I can do it right."

There are no precise statistics on the divorce rate in the U.S. because not all states report divorces. But among the states that did report, there were 3.4 divorces per 1,000 people in 2009, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Experts say the number of divorces has risen since the 1960s because of laws making it easier and divorce becoming more socially acceptable.

After all those divorces in years past, it`s no surprise that in modern-day couples at least one or both partners come from a family with divorced parents. But coming from a family that suffered marital discord can present challenges to the relationships of adult children of divorce, marriage experts say.

The risk of divorce is 50 percent higher when one spouse comes from a divorced home, and 200 percent higher risk when both of them do, says Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah and author of "Understanding the Divorce Cycle: The Children of Divorce in Their Own Marriages."

Children of divorce are also 50 percent more likely to marry another child of divorce, he said.

Click here to read entire article.

September 24, 2010
No-Fault Divorce a Greater threat to Marriage than Gay `Marriage`: Expert

(LifeSiteNews)  According to Dr. Stephen Baskerville, professor of political science at Patrick Henry College and author of “Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family,” the government "is engaged in a direct assault on the family" that is causing family breakdown - which in turn allows government to reach into yet more areas of civil society under the pretext of solving the problems that the breakdown of the family creates.

"I would go so far as to say that family breakdown is the major engine driving domestic government expansion and spending: crime, substance abuse, educational failure, law enforcement," Dr. Baskerville told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN). "All these costs are attributable to single-parent homes more than any other single factor."

(To read the complete interview, including many things not contained in this summary, click here.)

Dr. Baskerville claimed that the government promotes family breakdown through “a panoply of destructive laws” linked to divorce.

"Unlike cultural threats to the family, divorce is a government regime," he stated. "It is not eroding the family; it is quite deliberately dismantling it."

For instance, he said that no-fault divorce laws are a more serious threat to the family than same-sex “marriage,” which he called “a symptom of how debased marriage has already become, not a cause of it."

No-fault divorce was signed into law in New York State by Governor David Paterson last month; New York was the last U.S. state to pass such a law. 

No-fault divorce, explained Dr. Baskerville, codifies "unilateral and involuntary divorce" and thereby permits the spouse breaking up the marriage and the divorce court to "force the innocent spouse to shoulder the burden of the consequences."

"The innocent spouse generally loses his children, his home and property, and his freedom for literally `no fault` of his own and for any failure to cooperate with the divorce."

Other laws are also connected with the “divorce-regime,” he continued.  False accusations of domestic violence are now common, he said, nearly all of which are “generated to secure custody of children in divorce cases."

"The same is largely true of the hysteria over `child abuse,`" he continued. "Child abuse is certainly real, but almost all of it takes place in single-parent homes, not intact families."

Thus, he continued, "by encouraging false accusations of child abuse to facilitate divorce and single-parent homes, the child abuse industry actually creates more child abuse.”

Finally, he said that although feminist and government propaganda promotes the idea that “child support is to provide for children who have been abandoned” by their fathers, it is instead “mostly extorted from fathers that have been evicted, again through ‘no fault’ of their own.”

“It is a subsidy on divorce and single-parent homes,” he explained. “If you pay people to divorce, they will do it more.  That is precisely what child support does.”

For all these reasons, he continued, conservatives who wish to ignore social issues and instead focus on fiscal issues are at best misguided.

"What even most conservatives do not realize," he said, "is how [crime, substance abuse, and educational failure] themselves are created not by impersonal social forces or cultural decay alone but by government itself."

"In other words, government is not simply responding to problems created by the culture.  By attacking the family, government is creating the very problems it claims to be solving.”

He recommended that conservatives widen "their focus from just same-sex marriage to the larger threats to marriage and the family."

"Divorce laws and practices are by far the greatest neglect.  Unless this machinery is brought under control it will continue spreading abuses elsewhere to threaten the rights of intact parents such as homeschoolers and others accused of `abuse` and `neglect.`"

(To read the complete interview, containing many things not found in this summary, click here.)

September 24, 2010
Negative Psychological Impact of Abortion Results from `Hard-Wiring` in Women`s Brains: Scholars

(LifeSiteNews)  "Women are hard-wired for relationships—and a woman’s relationship to her baby is one of the most powerful of all, whether she realizes it or not. The hard-wiring of the brain may explain many women’s disturbing post-abortion feelings," write Evelyn Birge Vitz and Paul C. Vitz in an article published in the September 20 issue of Public Discourse.

Evelyn Vitz is Professor of French and Affiliated Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University. Paul C. Vitz is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at New York University and Senior Scholar at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences.

In the article the authors relate spending a semester with students studying the stories of women who shared their experiences after an abortion.

The authors found that "many of these women are in acute pain; some are almost totally incapacitated" by their post-abortion feelings.

"What is particularly striking is that most of the women who have these powerful emotional reactions to their abortion are stunned by them. They were not opposed to abortion; many were actively pro-choice. They were blind-sided by their own reaction. One woman lamented—and thousands of others echo her mystified anguish—‘If this was the right decision, why do I feel so terrible?’”

Noting that "this disturbing phenomenon is so widespread, and found among women from varied backgrounds and different parts of the world," the authors postulate that "it seems likely that the brain itself—in particular, the nature of women’s brains—may shed some particularly useful light on this unexpected negative emotional reaction."

The authors cite research into the differences between women`s and men`s brains, especially as these differences relate to the realms of emotion, stress, and memory.

"A few of these differences can make a very large difference with regard to decision-making and its emotional consequences," the authors say, pointing out that "the part of the brain that processes emotion, generally called the limbic system, of women functions differently than that of men.

"Women experience emotions largely in relation to other people: what moves women most is relationships. Females are more personal and interpersonal than men."

On the handling of stress, the authors note that research has found that "men’s behavior under stress is generally characterized by what is called “fight or flight,” whereas women respond to stress by turning toward nurturing behavior, nicknamed “tend and befriend.”

In post-abortion stress disorder this "tend and befriend" response may manifest itself as depression and anxiety due to the lack of a focal point for the response.

"When responding to the stress of the abortion, she may well be drawn to nurturing, to ‘tending and befriending’ behavior: this is, we saw, characteristic of women. But one of the key persons she might have tended and befriended—her unborn child—she has just terminated. She therefore has no ready outlet to cope with this significant stress."

"Add to this already toxic mix the very power of the memories involved in most unwanted pregnancies and abortion experiences," the authors write, "such as the nausea or other physical symptoms, often exacerbated by hormonal instability and mood swings; the anxiety over the unwanted pregnancy; the drama of the pregnancy test; often, the difficulty of making the decision, then the waiting before the abortion can take place; perhaps protesters in front of the clinic; the abortion clinic waiting room, crowded perhaps with other emotional women and men; the abortion itself—the doctors and nurses, the stirrups, the vacuum or other machinery—then the recovery room; the pain and bleeding afterward.

"All these dramatic experiences are likely to provide her with indelible memories. A woman may return to them and relive them over and over."

The authors conclude that "though a woman can decide rationally to have an abortion ... a terrible and shocking reaction sets in after their abortion. Often what lasts is not the relief or the power of the logical arguments: these may prove very short-lived. It is, rather, the failed, betrayed relationship between the woman and her fetus—now, in her mind, her dead baby—that has staying power."

The authors call for a greater honesty from the medical profession toward women contemplating abortion "to prevent at least some women from having to experience this painful surprise."

"Women need to be told the truth. They need to be prepared for what may be the consequences of this major life decision. This is what informed choice means."

The full text of Vitz`s article, titled, "Women, Abortion, and the Brain" is available here. (http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/09/1657)

September 24, 2010
How Obama Thinks

(Forbes) Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps in American history. Thanks to him the era of big government is back. Obama runs up taxpayer debt not in the billions but in the trillions. He has expanded the federal government`s control over home mortgages, investment banking, health care, autos and energy. The Weekly Standard summarizes Obama`s approach as omnipotence at home, impotence abroad.

The President`s actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike. Consider this headline from the Aug. 18, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal: "Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling." Did you read that correctly? You did. The Administration supports offshore drilling--but drilling off the shores of Brazil. With Obama`s backing, the U.S. Export-Import Bank offered $2 billion in loans and guarantees to Brazil`s state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance exploration in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro--not so the oil ends up in the U.S. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil.

More strange behavior: Obama`s June 15, 2010 speech in response to the Gulf oil spill focused not on cleanup strategies but rather on the fact that Americans "consume more than 20% of the world`s oil but have less than 2% of the world`s resources." Obama railed on about "America`s century-long addiction to fossil fuels." What does any of this have to do with the oil spill? Would the calamity have been less of a problem if America consumed a mere 10% of the world`s resources?

The oddities go on and on. Obama`s Administration has declared that even banks that want to repay their bailout money may be refused permission to do so. Only after the Obama team cleared a bank through the Fed`s "stress test" was it eligible to give taxpayers their money back. Even then, declared Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the Administration might force banks to keep the money.

The President continues to push for stimulus even though hundreds of billions of dollars in such funds seem to have done little. The unemployment rate when Obama took office in January 2009 was 7.7%; now it is 9.5%. Yet he wants to spend even more and is determined to foist the entire bill on Americans making $250,000 a year or more. The rich, Obama insists, aren`t paying their "fair share." This by itself seems odd given that the top 1% of Americans pay 40% of all federal income taxes; the next 9% of income earners pay another 30%. So the top 10% pays 70% of the taxes; the bottom 40% pays close to nothing. This does indeed seem unfair--to the rich.

Obama`s foreign policy is no less strange. He supports a $100 million mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name of Islam brought down the World Trade Center. Obama`s rationale, that "our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable," seems utterly irrelevant to the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should be constructed at Ground Zero.

Recently the London Times reported that the Obama Administration supported the conditional release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber convicted in connection with the deaths of 270 people, mostly Americans. This was an eye-opener because when Scotland released Megrahi from prison and sent him home to Libya in August 2009, the Obama Administration publicly and appropriately complained. The Times, however, obtained a letter the Obama Administration sent to Scotland a week before the event in which it said that releasing Megrahi on "compassionate grounds" was acceptable as long as he was kept in Scotland and would be "far preferable" to sending him back to Libya. Scottish officials interpreted this to mean that U.S. objections to Megrahi`s release were "half-hearted." They released him to his home country, where he lives today as a free man.

One more anomaly: A few months ago nasa Chief Charles Bolden announced that from now on the primary mission of America`s space agency would be to improve relations with the Muslim world. Come again? Bolden said he got the word directly from the President. "He wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering." Bolden added that the International Space Station was a model for nasa`s future, since it was not just a U.S. operation but included the Russians and the Chinese. Obama`s redirection of the agency caused consternation among former astronauts like Neil Armstrong and John Glenn, and even among the President`s supporters: Most people think of nasa`s job as one of landing on the moon and Mars and exploring other faraway destinations. Sure, we are for Islamic self-esteem, but what on earth was Obama up to here?

Theories abound to explain the President`s goals and actions. Critics in the business community--including some Obama voters who now have buyer`s remorse--tend to focus on two main themes. The first is that Obama is clueless about business. The second is that Obama is a socialist--not an out-and-out Marxist, but something of a European-style socialist, with a penchant for leveling and government redistribution.

Click here to read the entire aticle.

September 23, 2010
Marijuana initiative gains backing of state`s largest labor union

(L.A. Times)  The campaign for Proposition 19, the initiative on the November ballot that seeks to legalize marijuana, plans to announce Tuesday that it has won the endorsement of the state council of the Service Employees International Union, the largest labor union in California.

The endorsement could bring a boost to the campaign, which has not been able to raise enough money for television advertisements and is relying on grass-roots outreach.

The SEIU, which says it has more than 700,000 members in California, is a significant political force in state politics, although it is not clear how much money or muscle it will put toward passage of the measure.

In a letter to the campaign, union President Bill A. Lloyd wrote: “As you know, our primary objective in the 2010 election is targeting the top of the ticket. The lion’s share of our focus and resources are targeted at electing Jerry Brown as our next governor, but we look forward to joining you in any way we can to help pass Proposition 19.”

Lloyd said the union decided to back the initiative because it could help raise revenue to avoid cuts to healthcare, home care, education and services for children, families, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The initiative, which allows people 21 and older to grow and possess marijuana, authorizes no taxes but allows cities and counties to approve the sale of marijuana and tax it.

“These new revenues will help the state and local governments protect and invest in jobs we need to provide for our families,” Lloyd wrote.

The pro-legalization campaign has made labor a key component of its election strategy. Dan Rush, a politically connected official from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 has been working closely with the campaign.

“I think that this is going to encourage major donors and show everyone that Proposition 19’s campaign is a viable campaign,” he said. “We are building an element of credibility and momentum for the campaign that is historic.”

Besides Rush’s local, the initiative has won support from the council that oversees political activities for the UFCW in California and four other states. The Northern California council of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, Communications Workers of America Local 9415 and Sign Displays & Allied Crafts Local 510 also signed on.

And Rush expects to add more. “I’m confident that other major labor unions are going to be weighing in,” he said.

The SEIU has 15 locals in California that represent workers in healthcare, long-term care, building services, and state and local government. Rush said he hopes the SEIU and the other endorsing unions will contribute money and workers to operate phone banks and walk precincts.

September 23, 2010
Calif. county keeps Prop. 8 battle going
Becky Yeh - OneNewsNow California correspondent

California marriage issue bigIn a battle to preserve marriage in the state of California, a Christian law group is standing against a federal judge`s decision to overturn Proposition 8, the measure which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a religious law group defending Prop. 8, has requested that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturn U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker`s August 4 ruling against the measure as "unconstitutional" and without rational basis.

Robert Tyler, general council for the organization, is representing Imperial County in the case for Proposition 8. He does not think the trial should have occurred in the first place.

"The courts have been very clear that the rationality motives behind a law like Proposition 8 are not subject to be submitted to trial," Tyler explains.  "In California, there is a constitutional limitation that says a trial judge`s ruling is only binding upon the party [represented]. Therefore, Judge Walker`s decision should not be applicable statewide; however, Judge Walker disagrees."

So Tyler`s group has filed written arguments to point out that the district court exceeded its jurisdiction. They state that Walker "ignored an overwhelming body of evidence establishing the common-sense proposition that the institution of marriage has, virtually always and everywhere, been defined as a union of man and woman."

The general council goes on to note that because marriage licenses are handed down from the state to county municipalities, each county clerk is responsible for issuing marriage licenses. "The county clerk is faced with a dilemma: apply with the law of the state that says `marriage is between man and woman,` or [follow] one judge`s ruling."

Imperial County is the only district in the state that is seeking to overturn Walker`s ruling. Meanwhile, both Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown -- who is currently running for governor under the Democratic ticket -- have both decided they will not defend the proposition, even though they are required to defend state law.

"It`s an outrage; neither Governor Schwarzenegger nor the attorney general is doing their job," Tyler laments. "A public official has the responsibility to do their jobs, whether they like it or not. The attorney general and the governor did not respect the law and the will of the people."

Advocates for Faith & Freedom is expected to receive an opposition brief in 30 days and argue the case in San Francisco the first week of December. A decision in the case should be announced by early 2011.

September 23, 2010
Brazilian Pastor Threatened by Government for Opposing Pro-Abortion Policies

(LifeSiteNews)  A Brazilian pastor is being threatened with "legal measures" by government officials following a sermon condemning the ruling party`s support for decriminalizing abortion, the homosexual agenda, and infanticide committed by indigenous tribes in the Amazon rain forest.

In a YouTube video that has now been viewed over 1.6 million times, Pastor Paschoal Piragine Jr. of the First Baptist Church of Curitiba, warns his flock that the ruling Brazilian Labor Party (PT) is seeking to create "institutionalized evil" in Brazil.

"We need to take a stand and say: `we don`t want this in our country,` and look for people to represent us to say, `I will vote against such things.` Otherwise, evil will be made official, and God will have no other option but to judge our land," says Piragine.

"And I would not only ask you to pray -- I think we should all pray -- but to take a stand, and when you vote, to vote for people who take a clear stance against these things and make a commitment to fight in the national Congress, and in the institutions of government, against the legalization of evil," he adds.

After showing his flock a video presentation on the pro-abortion and anti-family political movements that threaten to legalize abortion and destroy traditional marriage, Piragine notes that the PT "has made a commitment on this issue."

"During this year`s meeting, where they select their representatives, [President Luiz Lula] made them pass an agreement on these issues. In other words, if a PT representative or senator, votes against any of these laws in accordance with his conscience, he is expelled from the party. Two federal representatives were expelled from the PT for expressing their opposition to abortion."

Noting that some Catholic bishops had already urged Brazilians to vote against the PT, Piragine adds, "I would tell you the same thing.  Some people won`t like what I am saying, but I am saying it very clearly."

"As a pastor I have never done this. I am not telling you to vote for A or B. I am going to tell you whom not to vote for: for people who are working in favor of evil in our land. Otherwise, my dear ones, God will judge our land."
 
Angry Response

Apparently alarmed by the massive distribution of the video, high officials of President Luiz Lula`s regime have been lashing out at Piragine.

In an interview on Brazil`s CBN Radio, PT member and federal congressman Enio Verri expressed outrage at the video.

"With his own words he committed a great sin and will have to respond to his own community," said Verri. "But the PT is going to take the appropriate legal measures as quickly as possible, be sure of that."

The Leader of Government of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, which is the rough equivalent of the Speaker of the House in the United States, has responded with a public letter denying Piragine`s accusations and claiming that members of the PT have the right to dissent from the party line based on their consciences.

"It is not true that the deputies of the PT were expelled for opposing abortion," writes Deputy Gilmar Alves Machado. “It is true that they had conflict with women`s movements over issues related to abortion, but they were not expelled. Because of those problems, they were punished by the PT, which led them to change parties."

Contact information:

Embassy of Brazil in the USA
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
20008-3634
Phone: (202) 238-2700
Fax: (202) 238-2827
Email: ambassador@brasilemb.org

Embassy of Brazil in Canada
450 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6M8
Phone: (613) 237-1090 or (613) 755-5160
Fax: (613) 237-6144
E-mail: mailbox@brasembottawa.org

Embassies of Brazil to other Nations: http://www.embassyworld.com/embassy/Brazil/Brazil1.html

The First Baptist Church of Curitiba (Portuguese)
http://www.pibcuritiba.org.br/site08/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=927&Itemid=264

Email: comunicacao@pibcuritiba.org.br

September 20, 2010
We Must Protect Our Military


Family Research Council`s Questions and Answers
about "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell"


What might be the consequences of overturning the law?

How do the numbers of personnel discharged under the 1993 homosexual law compare to the total number of personnel discharged since the enactment of that law?

Isn`t the integration of homosexuals similar to the integration of blacks?

Why do homosexuals want to serve in the military openly?

Today, society is more accepting of homosexuality than ever before. Why shouldn`t the military mirror society`s changes?

Isn`t this the same as allowing women to serve in the military with men?

Call Senator`s Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer immediately.
Tell them "Do not repeal "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell""


Senator Dianne Feinstein
(310) 914-7300
11111 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 915
Los Angeles, CA  90025

D.C. Phone: 202 224-3841
Email: www.Feinstein.senate.gov


Senator Barbara Boxer
(213) 894-5000

312 N. Spring St., Suite 1748
Los Angeles, CA  90012

D.C. Phone: 202 224-3553
Email: senator@boxer.senate.gov


Click here to sign the Family Research Council Petition to protect our military.

September 17, 2010
WATCH LIVE ONLINE: 2010 Values Voter Summit

(Values Voter Summit)  Today (Friday) and Saturday, September 17-18, beginning at 8:00 a.m. ET, FRC Action is partnering with our friends the American Family Association (AFA) for a live webcast from the 2010 Values Voter Summit. The FREE webcast will feature all the action from the ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. Watch live as our stellar lineup of speakers address the critical issues facing our country today. Speakers include:

  • Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
  • Dr. Bill Bennett
  • Ken Blackwell
  • The Duggar Family
  • Sean Hannity
  • David Limbaugh
  • Gov. Mike Huckabee
  • Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
  • Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.)
  • Christine O`Donnell
  • Gov. Mitt Romney
  • Sen. Rick Santorum
  • More!

View the webcast online beginning at 8:00 a.m. ET at ValuesVoterSummit.org, watch live what you`ll read about in the headlines later.

September 17, 2010
New TLC Series Aims to End `Discrimination` against Polygamy

(LifeSiteNews)  The stars of a controversial new TLC television show are gearing up to help change America`s idea of the family, encourage an end to what they call “discrimination” and promote legal acceptance of a new definition of marriage.

But this Utah family is not concerned about redefining marriage as between two men or two women, but as between one man and two, three, four, or more women.

"I just fell in love, and then I fell in love again, and then I fell in love again," says Kody Brown, a fundamentalist Mormon, in a sneak peek at the upcoming show. Brown considers himself to have three wives: Meri, Janelle, and Christine, and is planning to marry a fourth, Robyn, whose trials learning how to become a member of the "sister wives" appears to form the series` focal point.

"I knew it would be complicated, but I didn`t know it would break my heart," said Robyn in the official season preview. But, she says in a later clip, "The wives, they work together as a team, and I want to be a part of that team." The first three women have borne Brown 12 children; Robyn will bring three more from a previous marriage.

While “Sister Wives” is the first reality TV show examining the life of a polygamous household, it was preceded in 2006 by HBO`s ongoing fictional drama "Big Love," which follows a Utah polygamist household of one man and three women.

The stars of the new series hope the show will be an opportunity to "come out of the closet" and promote their way of life: Kody Brown told the New York Daily News that "Part of our reason for `coming out` is it`s a story that needs to be told."

"By telling the story and not getting acceptance, necessarily, but lowering the prejudice, it helps all of society understand it," he said.

Brown also framed his trouble with the law as a violation of his "civil rights" in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune last year. “In the past, polygamists have had to be secret due to the threat of indictment or expulsion from work. Our civil rights got thrown out a long time ago,” he said.

In an August interview with the Tribune, Bill Hayes, president of Figure 8 Films and co-executive producer of the show, called the husband and four women "very much a modern family." "They are open-minded. They are generally adorable,” said Hayes. "They have an unusual lifestyle, but for them, it was their lifestyle."

Proponents of polygamy, although essentially outlaws in almost all of North America, have recently made headway in gaining acceptance of the practice as a legitimate form of marriage. In a 2007 episode, talk show host Oprah Winfrey invited members of polygamous households to advocate their way of life on her program.

"This is a big step for people to look in and say, `You know what? Yes, [plural marriage] may not be my personal choice, but it is a choice,`" said a Maryland businessman identified only as Richard, who says he has three wives, on the show.

Valerie, a woman in another polygamous relationship, told Winfrey that "It can be hard when a wife goes out the door with your husband." "We have had jealousies and there have been those times and we can`t sugarcoat it and say that, `Oh, it`s so perfect and we love it and we love everyone.` You know, we all have our hard times just like any other people," she said.

However, Valerie contended that polygamy ought to be decriminalized. "I feel like I should have the right to live this way when this is a world of such alternative lifestyles."

September 17, 2010
Board takes up books` take on religion

(Houston Chronicle)  Texas public schoolchildren risk getting tainted with a pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias in their textbooks, according to a resolution the State Board of Education will consider next week that is likely to further inflame emotions already running high across the country.

"If Christians and Judaism get pushed aside, parents and people don`t like it because it`s not accurate. It`s not true," said Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, one of the board members supporting the resolution.

Critics of the resolution contend the bias perceptions are inflated or invalid. They also pointed out the lack of objections seven years ago when the social studies books were updated during a time Islam attracted less attention in this country.

Lawrence Allen Jr., D-Houston, the board`s only Muslim member, warned Wednesday that board approval of the resolution will bring more unwelcome national attention to Texas.

The resolution calls on the board to reject sections of textbooks that "offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world`s major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage ... or by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others."

The resolution contends that current textbooks glorify Islam with "superlatives" while downsizing Christianity with "pejoratives."

Allen wants the board to scuttle the resolution before it comes up next Friday.

"We will become very, very divisive in a vote like that," he said. "It will make national and international news. It`s just not good. The board will have to be very, very careful in recognizing that we are throwing gasoline on the fire."

Emotions are running high elsewhere with the planned development of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero in New York and controversy over the threatened burning of the Quran by the pastor of a small Christian congregation in Florida.

Emotions are running high elsewhere with the planned development of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero in New York and controversy over the threatened burning of the Quran by the pastor of a small Christian congregation in Florida.

Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, said the resolution is needed "to ensure that all religious groups are treated equally and fairly ."

"For example," she said, "many textbooks devote line after line to the massacre of Muslims, but censor Muslim massacres of other religious groups."

Making a `bold statement`

Former Ector Independent School District board president Randy Rives is pushing the resolution.

"You need to make a bold statement to the publishers that pushing this agenda will not be tolerated in Texas," he told State Board of Education members at a July meeting.

Allen, a public school administrator, said the resolution is unnecessary because the board has a process that provides ample public review "to assure that we have solid material in the classroom."

Support for the resolution appears to be coming mainly from the board`s seven social conservative members and reflects the same sort of tension evident when they developed new science curriculum standards last year and social studies curriculum standards earlier this year.

"Without a doubt, social studies and science textbooks oftentimes find themselves at the crossroads of our nation`s cultural wars," said Jay Diskey, executive director of the Association of American Publishers` School Division.

Most book companies create independent internal bias reviews "because they know it does them no good to produce things that are inaccurate and biased," Diskey said.

The books cited in the resolution currently are not used in Texas schools, Diskey said.

Rives said he and others are concerned that those books are available for use by Texas schools. Rives unsuccessfully challenged Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, in the GOP primary this year.

Shortcomings noted in the resolution probably do not represent a serious problem, McLeroy said.

"But it`s not a bad idea to bring attention to it," he said. "I certainly don`t want to keep fanning the flames."

Top Baptist critical

That is exactly what will happen, said the Rev. Larry Bethune, senior pastor at the University Baptist Church in Austin and immediate past president of the American Baptist Churches of the South.

"It piles on to the fear-mongering and anti-Islamic fervor that some political forces in our country are stirring up," Bethune said, adding the religious bias complaints in Texas coincide with the country`s growing "anti-Islam rhetoric … and sad attack on Islam."

Schools, he said, "should teach about religious liberty and respect for other people`s religious traditions and not teach extremists as exemplary of the entire religion."

THE ASSERTIONS

The resolution asserts that in some social studies textbooks nationwide there are, in its words:

Patterns of pejoratives toward Christians and superlatives toward Muslims, calling Crusaders aggressors, "violent attackers," or "invaders" while euphemizing Muslim conquest of Christian lands as "migrations" by "empire builders."

Politically correct whitewashes of Islamic culture and stigmas on Christian civilization, indicting Christianity for the same practices (e.g., sexism, slavery, persecution of out-groups) that they treat non-judgmentally, minimize, sugarcoat, or censor in Islam.

Sanitized definitions of "jihad" that exclude religious intolerance or military aggression against non-Muslims … which undergirds worldwide Muslim terrorism.

September 17, 2010
Violent Crime Declined As Gun Sales Climbed in 2009
(CNSNews)  Violent crime continued to fall in 2009, even as gun sales reached an all-time high, according to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This is “proof positive that gun prohibitionists have been consistently and undeniably wrong,” the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said in a statement.

Released Tuesday, the violent crime statistics are part of the FBI’s yearly Uniform Crime Report, which collects crime statistics from localities all across the country and is the most comprehensive report on crime in America.

According to the FBI, the number of violent crimes of all types declined in 2009 by 5.3 percent and property crimes declined 4.6 percent. In fact, the rate of violent crime declined 6.1 percent below 2008 figures.

In total, the FBI estimated that 1.3 million violent crimes were committed in 2009.

“Each of the four violent crime offenses decreased when compared with the 2008 estimates. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter and robbery had the largest decreases: 7.3 percent and 8.0 percent, respectively,” the FBI said in a press release summarizing the report. “In addition, aggravated assault decreased 4.2 percent, and forcible rape declined 2.6 percent.”

In fact, the types of crime most likely to be committed with a firearm, murders and manslaughters, experienced one of the greatest rates of decline in 2009 – 7.3 percent.

While violent crime was going down in 2009, guns sales were experiencing a record year. According to data from the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System (NICS), 2009 was the best year on record for gun sales.

According to the NICS figures, 14 million guns were sold in 2009, the biggest year since the system began recording data in 1998. The NICS figures are considered the most accurate measurement of gun sales because federal law requires that a NICS check be done prior to every firearm sale in America.

In fact, there were nearly 2 million more guns sold in the United States in 2009 than in 2008, the next best year for gun sales, when 12.7 million NICS checks were recorded.

The NCIS data do not capture all gun sales, however, as only federally licensed primary dealers are required to conduct them. Firearms sales between private citizens can still be done freely, without having to let the federal government know about it. This normally occurs at one of the nation’s many public gun shows, meaning that the firearms sales figures provided by NICS are actually lower than the true figures.

This means that gun sales likely exceeded the already record figure of 14 million indicated by the NICS.

Taken together, these two sets of statistics seem to undermine the claims of anti-Second Amendment groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence that push for strict federal and state gun control laws, including an outright ban on so-called assault weapons.

Such groups have gone to great lengths to make a connection between gun ownership and violent crime, often pointing out that gun ownership “increases the risk” of injury of death.

“Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of homicide by a factor of 3,” the Brady Campaign’s Web site states.

Given that as gun sales have increased, violent crime has decreased seems to indicate that firearm ownership and the commission of violent crime is only incidentally, not causally, linked.

“What the data tell us is exactly the opposite of what the gun-ban lobby has predicted for several years,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, in a statement. “Their dire predictions that America’s streets would run red have been shown up as a fraudulent sales pitch for public disarmament.”

“No matter how gun prohibitionists try to spin this,” said Gottlieb, “the bottom line is that they have been consistently and demonstrably wrong, and they know it. On the other hand, gun rights organizations have been consistently right when we argued that increased gun ownership would not lead to higher crime rates, and might even have a deterrent effect.”

September 17, 2010
Tony Perkins: `We must Love People Enough` to Combat Homosexuality

(LifeSiteNews)  Conservatives` principled opposition to same-sex "marriage" is based, not on "homophobia" or any animus against homosexual persons, but on a genuine love for homosexual individuals that propels leaders to teach the truth about homosexuality and the damage it causes, said Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins last week.

"Conservatives, especially Christian conservatives, realize we must love people enough to be willing to speak the truth – and the truth is that we cannot redefine marriage without opening the door to all manner of moral and social evil," Perkins said in an address to the Faith and Freedom Conference in the nation`s capital Friday.

Perkins continued: "I do not oppose homosexual marriage because I think it would threaten my marriage. I oppose it because it threatens the institution of marriage and, as a result, our nation itself." While men and women are "biologically, psychologically, and emotionally" complementary, he said, statistics confirm that the homosexual relationship is far from the family-friendly model homosexual lobbyists often paint it to be.

"Data show that the great majority of married homosexuals have multiple sexual partners. One recent study of homosexual couples found that each member of such couples averages eight additional sexual partners per year. Do I really need to say that this is not a good environment for children?" Perkins asked.

The leader also noted other studies that suggest "children raised in homosexual homes are much more likely to be exposed to violence than those raised by a mom and a dad."

For example, a 1994 study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examining conflict and violence in lesbian relationships found that 90% of the lesbians surveyed had been recipients of one or more acts of verbal aggression from their intimate partners during the year prior to the study, with 31% reporting one or more incidents of physical abuse. A 2001 survey in the Journal of the Family Research Institute found that gay men were 25 times more likely than married men to be domestically attacked.

Click here for more information on the effect of same-sex parenting on child

September 17, 2010
Justice Breyer Suggests That Burning a Quran Could be Like Shouting `Fire` in a Crowded Theatre--Thus Not Protected by 1st Amendment

(CNSNews)  Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer said on Tuesday that globalization may change the way the First Amendment applies in the United States, and he suggested that Pastor Terry Jones’ proposed Quran-burning may or may not be protected under the First Amendment.

Breyer -- appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to promote his book “Making Our Democracy Work” -- made the comments to anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Stephanopoulos was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton when Breyer was elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1994. The ABC anchorman asked the justice to explain whether globalization, and Jones’s ability to broadcast his actions, poses “a challenge” to the First Amendment.

“[W]hen we spoke several years ago, you talked about how the process of globalization was changing our understanding of the law,” Stephanopoulos began. “When you think about the Internet and when you think about the possibility that, you know, a pastor in Florida with a flock of 30 can threaten to burn the Quran, and that leads to riots and killings in Afghanistan, does that pose a challenge to the First Amendment—to how you interpret it? Does it change the nature of…what we can allow and protect?”

“Well, in a sense, yes; in a sense, no,” Breyer replied. “People can express their views in debate, no matter how awful those views are -- in debate, a conversation, people exchanging ideas. That’s the model so that, in fact, we are better informed when we cast that ballot.”

While the “core values remain,” Breyer continued, “how they apply can change” over time, he suggested.

Breyer pointed to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ opinion in a 1919 case testing the limits of First Amendment protection. Holmes argued that shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater would not be protected speech because people could be trampled in the rush to escape a burning theater.

“And what is the crowded theater today?” Breyer asked. “What is being trampled to death?”

On Tuesday morning, Breyer said any new interpretation of the First Amendment and the “crowded theater” benchmark will be decided over time through jurisprudence.

“Yes, well perhaps that will be answered by—if it’s answered by our court, it will be answered over time in a series of cases, which force people to think carefully. That’s the virtue of cases,” he said.

September 17, 2010
Who`s a family? New study tracks shifting US views

(AP)  New research being released Wednesday shows steadily increasing recognition of unmarried couples _ gay and straight _ as families. But there`s a solid core resisting this trend who are more willing to include pets in their definition than same-sex partners.

How "family" is defined is a crucial question on many levels. Beyond the debate over same-sex marriage, it affects income tax filings, adoption and foster care practices, employee benefits, inheritance rights and countless other matters.

The new research on the topic is contained in a book-length study, "Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans` Definition of Family" and in a separate 2010 survey overseen by the book`s lead author, Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell.

Between 2003 and 2010, three surveys conducted by Powell`s team showed a significant shift toward counting same-sex couples with children as family _ from 54 percent of respondents in 2003 to 68 percent in 2010. In all, more than 2,300 people were surveyed.

Powell linked the changing attitudes to a 10 percent rise between 2003 and 2010 in the share of survey respondents who reported having a gay friend or relative.

"This indicates a more open social environment in which individuals now feel more comfortable discussing and acknowledging sexuality," Powell said.

Only about one-third of those surveyed said they considered same-sex couples without children to be a family. And in 2006, when asked if gay couples and pets count as family, 30 percent said pets count but not gay couples.

"The sheer idea that gay couples are given less status than pets should give us pause," Powell said in an interview.

In the 2010 survey, 83 percent of the respondents said they perceived unmarried heterosexual couples with children as a family; only 40 percent extended that recognition to unmarried straight couples without children.

In line with several recent national opinion polls, Powell`s 2010 survey showed a near-even split on same-sex marriage _ with 52 percent supporting it and 48 percent opposed.

Even though five states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriages, the federal government doesn`t recognize them. The Census Bureau definition of "family" remains traditional: "A family is a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together."

Many religious conservatives hope the government sticks by that definition, even in the face of shifts in public opinion.

"Same-sex marriage is a dangerous social experiment," said Glenn Stanton, director of family formation studies for Focus on the Family. "A lesbian couple who legally married in Massachusetts _ are they family? We would say, `Absolutely not.`"

Stanton said it was increasingly difficult to engage in serious debate on the definition question.

"We`re moving in this headlong direction toward same-sex families without any intelligent discussion about whether it`s actually good for the children and the adults," he said. "This whole issue has boiled down to, `Are you a bigot or not?`"

The shifts described in Powell`s research pleased Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, which advocates on behalf of same-sex families.

"People are taking a more expansive view of what a family is," said Chrisler. "But for any family that doesn`t fit the 1960s Ozzie and Harriet mold, slow and steady doesn`t feel fast enough."

Chrisler and her wife, Cheryl Jacques, a former Massachusetts state senator, are raising twin boys.

The Family Equality Council has been lobbying on behalf of a bill pending in Congress that would prohibit states and child welfare agencies from denying adoption or foster care placements solely based on the sexual orientation or marital status of the potential parents.

The bill is targeted at states such as Florida, which bans gays and lesbians from adopting _ a policy now being challenged in court.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., has been applauded by the Alternatives to Marriage Project because it encompasses single people as well as same-sex couples,

"I get frequent letters and e-mails from people who find the political rhetoric of `family` to be extremely exclusive of singles," said the project`s executive director, Nicky Grist. "For singles, it might be a code for `You don`t count.`"

For Powell, the major finding of his new research is the shifting view of same-sex families _ which he compared to the gradual acceptance of interracial marriage.

"We envisage a day in the near future when same-sex families also will gain acceptance by a large plurality of the public," he wrote.

His book was published by the Russell Sage Foundation, a social science research center, as part of a series overseen by the American Sociological Association.

September 17, 2010
Study: Mental Health Deteriorates With Increased Television

(LifeSiteNews))A new study has found that watching more than 4 hours of TV a day has an adverse effect on mental well-being.

The study was conducted by Mark Hamer, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, and research associates Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, and Gita D. Mishra, PhD. It analyzed the association of leisure-time sedentary behavior in adults, measured by television and screen-based entertainment (TVSE) time, and mental health.

The researchers looked at mental health survey data of 3920 men and women between the ages of 35 and 65 years, from the 2003 Scottish Health Survey. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and the mental health component of the 12-Item Short-Form Survey Instrument (MCS-12) were administered to obtain information on current mental health. Self-reported TVSE time, physical activity, and general health were also measured.

Approximately a quarter of the participants in the study engaged in at least four hours a day of watching screen-based entertainment.

After adjustment for age, gender, physical activity, smoking, alcohol, fruit and vegetable intake, the researchers found that participants with the highest TVSE level had the highest instances of mental health problems compared with participants in the group with the lowest TVSE level of less than 2 hours per day.

The report concludes that, while sedentary behavior is known to be an independent risk factor for physical health, mental well-being also deteriorates with more time spent in front of the TV.

"Sedentary behavior in leisure time is independently associated with poorer mental health scores in a representative population sample," Dr. Hamer wrote.

An abstract, with links to the full text of the study, titled "Television- and Screen-Based Activity and Mental Well-Being in Adults" is available here.

September 17, 2010
District Judge Refuses to Toss States` Suit against ObamaCare

(LifeSiteNews)  A U.S. district judge in Florida has unofficially approved for trial parts of a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of 20 U.S. states against the federal government over the constitutionality of the new health care reform law.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida declined to dismiss the lawsuit after a Tuesday hearing at the federal courthouse in Pensacola. However, he said he expected to dismiss some unspecified aspects of the states’ suit, which would be made clear in a ruling set for October 14.

The suit contends that the individual insurance mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exceeds Congress’s prerogative to regulate interstate commerce, as penalizing individuals to purchase health insurance amounts to a regulation of economic “inactivity.”


“If the federal government is allowed to implement the individual mandate requiring citizens to have health insurance or pay a penalty, there is essentially no limit to what government can force citizens to purchase,” Florida attorney general Bill McCollum, who is leading the lawsuit, said today.

Florida`s fight is being joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington. The suit is also joined by the National Federation of Independent Business and two individuals.

In response, lawyers for the federal government argued that because "virtually everyone at some point needs medical services," insurance amounts to an advance payment; in addition, the mandate "forms an essential part of a comprehensive interrelated regulatory scheme" designed to prevent medical costs from uninsured patients getting passed on to the taxpayer.

Besides the insurance mandate, the states also argue that the new care law unduly harms them by forcing them pay for 10 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid in 2020. Florida predicts that it would have to shell out one billion dollars annually to comply with the law’s mandates.

McCollum said the only choice left to states under the new law would be to opt out the Medicaid program, a move he described as “unrealistic” since it would deprive the poor of health care coverage altogether.

Virginia, which filed its own lawsuit against the health care law, was the first state to fire a legislative warning shot against constitutional overreach. The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill in March declaring any federal mandate to require individuals to purchase health insurance null and void in the commonwealth.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled August 2 that Virginia’s challenge to the national health care reform law could proceed to the discovery process.

“While this case raises a host of complex constitutional issues, all seem to distill to the single question of whether or not Congress has the power to regulate — and tax — a citizen’s decision not to participate in interstate commerce,” stated Hudson in his 32-page decision.

September 17, 2010
Government Spending Millions of Dollars on Public Health Training Centers

(CNSNews.com) Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday announced the award of $16.8 million to support 27 Public Health Training Centers at accredited schools of public health across the country. 

Most of the funding – $15.4 million – will flow from the Prevention and Public Health Fund established by the Democrats’ recently passed health care law.

The Public Health Training Center (PHTC) Program is intended to improve the public health system by “enhancing skills of the current and future public health workforce,” HHS said in a news release.

According to a training video produced by the Association of Schools of Public Health, “The public health workforce performs the vital job of keeping the population healthy. It makes sure that our food, drinking water, and swimming pools are safe. It tracks outbreaks. And it organizes community-based programs that aim to make it easier for people to make healthy choices about issues like diet, exercise, and smoking.”

The public health workforce includes nurses, laboratory workers, health educators, epidemiologists, health commissioners, “managers in community-based organizations” and public health policy leaders, the video says.

HHS says the current public health workforce is not big enough to meet the health needs of the U.S. population.

“Today’s awards represent a dramatic increase in support for Public Health Training Centers,” Sebelius said in a news release announcing the funding. “Investing in prevention and public health is the foundation for improving the health and well-being of all Americans.”

According to HHS, organizations (mostly universities) receiving the money will use it to:

-- plan, develop, operate and evaluate projects that support goals established by the Secretary in preventive medicine, health promotion and disease prevention;

--  improve access to and quality of health services in medically underserved communities.

Currently, 45 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S.-associated Pacific Islands are covered by Public Health Training Center activity. The centers offer both in-person and distance-based training.

“Whether facing public health emergencies such as natural disasters, or chronic conditions like obesity, a well-trained public health workforce is critical to ensuring the nation’s health and welfare,” said Mary K. Wakefield, the administrator of HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversees the Public Health Training Center Program.

The PHTC program was established by the Public Health Service Act, as amended by in November 1998.

September 17, 2010
School Apologizes After Students Pray to Allah on Field Trip to Mosque

( FoxNews)  A Massachusetts school district has apologized to parents after a group of schoolchildren participated in midday Muslim prayers during a field trip to a Boston-area mosque.

The incident occurred in May when a social studies class from Wellesley Middle School toured the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, one of the largest mosques in the Northeast.

Parents were told their children would be learning about the architecture of a mosque and they would be allowed to observe a prayer service. But the students wound up being given a lecture on the Prophet Muhammad, and some boys participated in a midday prayer service.

The field trip was videotaped by a parent whose child was on the trip. At one point, the video shows a spokeswoman for the mosque telling students, “You have to believe in Allah, and Allah is the one God, the only one worthy of worship, all forgiving, all merciful."

Attorney Rob Meltzer represents the parent, who asked not to be identified. He’s launched an investigation into the incident and says he may consider filing a lawsuit or complaint against the school district.

“Personally, I was appalled,” Meltzer told FOX News Radio. “We are obviously very concerned about how much control parents were given and the lack of informed consent.”

The sixth graders were also reportedly told that jihad is a personal spiritual struggle that has nothing to do with holy war, and girls on the field trip were told that Islam is pro-women.

“Islam was actually very advanced in terms of recognizing women’s rights,” an unidentified mosque spokeswoman says in the video. “At the time of the Prophet Muhammad, women were allowed to express their opinions and vote. In this country, women didn’t gain that right until less than a hundred years ago.”

Dennis Hale, a spokesman for Americans for Peace and Tolerance, which has been critical of the mosque, told Fox News Radio that the students were then instructed on how to pray during the midday service.  

He said mosque officials separated the group by gender and invited male students to join traditional Muslim prayers. The video shows young boys bowing and prostrating themselves – with their heads touching the floor. At no point during the event did any school teacher or school official intervene.

But the Muslim American Society of Boston told the Boston Globe that no one asked the students to participate in the prayers.

“Certainly in our tours we do not invite kids to take part, but if someone wants to come and pray and take part, we shouldn’t prevent them,” the group`s president, Bilal Kaleem, told the newspaper. “It’s more an issue with the school.”

But Hale says the mosque was engaged in proselytizing. “You can easily imagine what would have happened if a Catholic priest had taken some kids from a school to teach them about Catholicism and have them take communion without telling the parents,” he told Fox News Radio. “The furor would be visible from outer space.”

On Thursday, nearly four months after the incident, the Wellesley School District sent a letter to parents apologizing for what happened.

“I extend my sincere apologies for the error that occurred and regret the offense it may have caused,” Superintendent Bella Wong wrote in a statement provided to FOX News Radio. “In the future, teachers will provide more clear guidance to students to better define what is allowed to fulfill the purpose of observation.”

Wong explained the field trip was part of a course titled, “Enduring Beliefs and the World Today.” It included a visit to a synagogue and a mosque – along with a gospel music concert and a meeting with representatives of the Hindu religion.

She acknowledged that five students participated in the midday Muslim prayers, and she confirmed that a parent videotaped the incident.

“It was not the intent for students to be able to participate in any of the religious practices,” she wrote. “The fact that any students were allowed to do so in this case was an error.”

September 17, 2010
Pastors taken to task for political apathy

(WorldNetDaily)  America has gone "from one nation under God to a nation at war with God," said Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, at WND`s "Taking America Back Conference." And who`s to blame?

According to a pair of speakers at the Miami confab, one of most significant answers is also one the most uncomfortable for Christians.

"As the church goes, so goes the nation; as the pastor goes, so goes the church." Scarborough said, "What we have in America is a preacher problem."

Scarborough, himself a former Southern Baptist minister, told the audience his story of recognizing the need for pastors to snap out of political complacency and get involved in the cultural war for the soul of the nation.

He had attended a sexual education presentation at his daughter`s high school in the 1990s, only to discover a message of sexual license and perversity that shocked him. When he brought a transcript of the presentation to his church, the building was filled with people equally stunned.

Shortly thereafter, Scarborough explained at "Taking America Back," he began to free his congregation from excessive church responsibilities to take up civic duties. Members of his church were elected to the school board and city council and began to reassert Christian values in the public arena.

"We just got the people in the churches to stand up and do what they ought to be doing," Scarborough said.

The story is at the heart of his founding of Vision America, but he warns that the people will not rise up and get involved unless the pastors lose their fear and apathy toward political involvement.

Doug Giles, radio host and father of the undercover video journalist Hannah Giles, brought the same challenge, but with a much sharper tone.

(Story continues below)

"Somebody who waffles, quiet as a church mouse," Giles said, "that cat is about as useless as a pitch pipe to Yoko Ono."

Giles further charged, referring to the heated politics surrounding the tea party movement and the 2010 election, "If a pastor is not part of this crucial societal throwdown … this pastor is Dr. Evil and part of the problem."

Giles listed 10 reasons pastors don`t get involved in politics and refuted every one.

He warned pastors against thinking of their duties as primarily pious and spiritual: "Your religious liberties are disappearing like a pack of smokes at an AA clinic."

He warned pastors not to fear losing their 501(c)3 tax-exempt status: "You`re going to compromise the gospel because you don`t want to pay taxes on hot dogs? Wow."

Pulling no punches, Giles also slammed big-church pastors who are afraid speaking out on issues of liberty and morality for fear of losing their lucrative positions: "Christendom has its shares of money-loving hookers … bowing to cash instead of convictions."

"Saul Alinsky loves those pastors who don`t get involved politically," Giles concluded, "and so does the guy written about in the dedication to his book ["Rules for Radicals"]. Who was that again? Oh yeah, Lucifer."

Scarborough argued that the culture wars won`t be won unless both pastors and pew-sitters are willing to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty in the fight:

"The problem with us Christians today is that we`re so afraid of offending our little ears that we`ve dug holes and buried our heads in them," he said. "The holes that the `gays` came out of, the church went in, and it`s not going to change until the church comes out."

He wrapped up his speech with a challenge:

"If the church doesn`t awaken now, if the tea party and everybody involved doesn`t understand that God is at the heart of it all, then we lose," he said.

The crowd then erupted in standing ovation with his final words, "It`s now or never. It`s time for the church to stand."

September 17, 2010
Obama Added More to National Debt in First 19 Months Than All Presidents from Washington Through Reagan Combined, Says Gov’t Data

 

(CNSNews)  In the first 19 months of the Obama administration, the federal debt held by the public increased by $2.5260 trillion, which is more than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public that was amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan.

The U.S. Treasury Department divides the federal debt into two categories [1]. One is “debt held by the public,” which includes U.S. government securities owned by individuals, corporations, state or local governments, foreign governments and other entities outside the federal government itself. The other is “intragovernmental” debt, which includes I.O.U.s the federal government gives to itself when, for example, the Treasury borrows money out of the Social Security “trust fund” to pay for expenses other than Social Security.

At the end of fiscal year 1989, which ended eight months after President Reagan left office, the total federal debt held by the public was $2.1907 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office [2]. That means all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan had accumulated only that much publicly held debt on behalf of American taxpayers. That is $335.3  billion less than the $2.5260 trillion that was added to the federal debt held by the public just between Jan. 20, 2009, when President Obama was inaugurated, and Aug. 20, 2010, the 19-month anniversary of Obama`s inauguration.
 
By contrast, President Reagan was sworn into office on Jan. 20, 1981 and left office eight years later on Jan. 20, 1989. At the end of fiscal 1980, four months before Reagan was inaugurated, the federal debt held by the public was $711.9 billion, according to CBO [2]. At the end of fiscal 1989, eight months after Reagan left office, the federal debt held by the public was $2.1907 trillion. That means that in the nine-fiscal-year period of 1980-89--which included all of Reagan’s eight years in office--the federal debt held by the public increased $1.4788 trillion. That is in excess of a trillion dollars less than the $2.5260 increase in the debt held by the public during Obama’s first 19 months.
 
When President Barack Obama took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009, the total federal debt held by the public stood at 6.3073 trillion, according to the Bureau of the Public Debt [3], a division of the U.S. Treasury Department. As of Aug. 20, 2010, after the first nineteen months of President Obama’s 48-month term, the total federal debt held by the public had grown to a total of $8.8333 trillion, an increase of $2.5260 trillion.
 
In just the last four months (May through August), according to the CBO, the Obama administration has run cumulative deficits of $464 billion, more than the $458 billion deficit the Bush administration ran through the entirety of fiscal 2008.

The CBO predicted this week that the annual budget deficit for fiscal 2010, which ends on the last day of this month, will exceed $1.3 trillion.

The first two fiscal years in which Obama has served will see the two biggest federal deficits as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product since the end of World War II.
 
“CBO currently estimates that the deficit for 2010 will be about $70 billion below last year’s total but will still exceed $1.3 trillion,” said the CBO’s monthly budget review [4] for September, which was released yesterday. “Relative to the size of the economy, this year’s deficit is expected to be the second-largest shortfall in the past 65 years: At 9.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), that deficit will be exceeded only by last year’s deficit of 9.9 percent of GDP.”

September 17, 2010
Report: Castro says Cuban model doesn`t work

(Yahoo News)  Fidel Castro told a visiting American journalist that Cuba`s communist economic model doesn`t work, a rare comment on domestic affairs from a man who has conspicuously steered clear of local issues since stepping down four years ago.

The fact that things are not working efficiently on this cash-strapped Caribbean island is hardly news. Fidel`s brother Raul, the country`s president, has said the same thing repeatedly. But the blunt assessment by the father of Cuba`s 1959 revolution is sure to raise eyebrows.

Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, asked if Cuba`s economic system was still worth exporting to other countries, and Castro replied: "The Cuban model doesn`t even work for us anymore" Goldberg wrote Wednesday in a post on his Atlantic blog.

He said Castro made the comment casually over lunch following a long talk about the Middle East, and did not elaborate. The Cuban government had no immediate comment on Goldberg`s account.

Since stepping down from power in 2006, the ex-president has focused almost entirely on international affairs and said very little about Cuba and its politics, perhaps to limit the perception he is stepping on his brother`s toes.

Goldberg, who traveled to Cuba at Castro`s invitation last week to discuss a recent Atlantic article he wrote about Iran`s nuclear program, also reported on Tuesday that Castro questioned his own actions during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, including his recommendation to Soviet leaders that they use nuclear weapons against the United States.

Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba has clung to its communist system.

The state controls well over 90 percent of the economy, paying workers salaries of about $20 a month in return for free health care and education, and nearly free transportation and housing. At least a portion of every citizen`s food needs are sold to them through ration books at heavily subsidized prices.

President Raul Castro and others have instituted a series of limited economic reforms, and have warned Cubans that they need to start working harder and expecting less from the government. But the president has also made it clear he has no desire to depart from Cuba`s socialist system or embrace capitalism.

Fidel Castro stepped down temporarily in July 2006 due to a serious illness that nearly killed him.

He resigned permanently two years later, but remains head of the Communist Party. After staying almost entirely out of the spotlight for four years, he re-emerged in July and now speaks frequently about international affairs. He has been warning for weeks of the threat of a nuclear war over Iran.

Castro`s interview with Goldberg is the only one he has given to an American journalist since he left office.

September 17, 2010
Kagan Now Recused From 21 Pending Supreme Court Cases

(Wall Streeet Journal)  When President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court in May, we and many others reported out that she’d likely have to recuse herself from a handful of cases for the upcoming term.

The reason: she was the Solicitor General for the U.S. So she’d be conflicted on a number of cases, having already served as an advocate on many of them.

But we never dreamed that Kagan would recuse herself from half the cases for the upcoming term. But it seems that’s where we are, at least for now. Kagan this week, in the words of National Law Journal reporter Tony Mauro, “quietly” recused herself from 10 more cases to be argued in the upcoming term. That brings the number of cases from which she’s recused herself to 21. As Mauro points out, that’s more than half of the 40 cases the court has so far agreed to hear.

Mauro reports that during her confirmation this summer, Kagan said she would in 11 cases. So why the extra 10? Apparently she’s decided that her participation at earlier phases, even in cases in which her office did not formally offer up an opinion, mandate her recusal.

The best-known of the new cases in which Kagan will recuse is Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, testing the power of states to regulate hiring of illegal aliens.

So what does this mean for the court? Unless and until a recusal contingency plan (like this one) is put into place, the court will be stuck with just eight justices in each of the cases.

In a result of a 4-4- tie, the ruling being appealed simply stands. The court, and the nation, certainly can live through this; we’re not staring down a constitutional crisis or anything. But it seems to us that it could lead to an unfortunate amount of wasted time and money.

September 17, 2010
Federal Appeals Court: Gov`t Can Fund Stem Cell Research for Now

(Christian Post)  Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is back on following the ruling of a federal appeals court Thursday.

Two days after a district court judge refused to stay an order blocking the funding of the controversial research, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted the stay requested by the Obama administration.

As a result, the National Institutes of Health – for an unpredictable amount of time – can use federal dollars to support the research, which necessitates the destruction of embryos.

Conservatives, unsurprisingly, were not pleased by the ruling.

“This ruling amounts to saying that the government can fund an activity that is legally questionable while the legality is being determined by the courts,” commented Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, in a statement. “If the Appeals court wants to consider the government’s appeal, that is understandable, but it is irresponsible to fund something of questionable legality. This amounts to claiming that the activity is in fact legal.”

Late last month, Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for D.C. issued a preliminary injunction that barred the NIH from funding human embryonic stem cell research. In his ruling, Lamberth said the funding violated the Dickey-Wicker Amendment – a 1996 law that prohibits funding for research that involves destruction or damage to a human embryo.

The Obama administration, however, argued that the funding to date has not been used to destroy embryos but only for research. Officials also emphasized the untapped potential of finding a cure for a wide range of diseases.

“We are pleased with the Court’s interim ruling, which will allow promising stem cell research to continue while we present further arguments to the Court in the weeks to come,” stated the NIH on Friday.

“Human embryonic stem cell research holds the potential for generating profound new insights into disease, cell-based therapeutics, and novel methods of screening for new drugs,” the nation’s premiere medical research agency added.

In response to the latest ruling, the NIH said it has resumed research and is considering applications for grants that were suspended by the preliminary injunction.

For over a year now, the NIH has been acting on an executive order issued by President Obama, who last March rescinded former President George W. Bush’s order to restrict federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Funding and supporting human embryonic research has been one of Obama’s top priorities.

While the latest ruling was hailed as a victory by some, the judges of the appeals court clarified in their order that the stay “should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits.”

Still, the decision was criticized by conservative groups including the Alliance Defense Fund, co-counsel in the lawsuit against the federal funding of the research.

ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden argued that Americans “should not be forced to pay for even one more day of experiments that destroy human life, have produced no real-world treatments, and violate an existing federal law.”

Like many opponents of embryonic stem cell research, Aden points to ethical and successful alternatives to the controversial research, such as adult stem cell research or induced pluripotent stem cell research.

To date, adult stem cell research has helped treat more than 80 diseases while embryonic stem cell has treated none.

“In economic times like we are in now, it doesn’t make sense for the federal government to use precious taxpayer dollars for this illegal and unethical purpose,” said Aden.

Despite arguments, supporters of the controversial research emphasize that embryonic stem cells can differentiate into almost any tissue and therefore have the potential to treat a wide range of diseases.

NIH Chief Dr. Francis Collins, an outspoken evangelical Christian, has also assured concerned Americans that research on the embryos is ethical and does not violate principles on human dignity and sanctity of life.

“Let me be clear, these are embryos that would have been otherwise discarded as part of in-vitro fertilization clinic activities,” Collins noted late last year in an appearance on CNN.

Collins was tapped to direct the NIH just months after Obama’s March 2009 executive order on stem cell research. He is also a member of the Vatican`s Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

September 17, 2010
Judge Strikes Down Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell

(Christian Post)  The "don`t ask, don`t tell" policy infringes the fundamental rights of United States servicemembers and is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips concluded that the Clinton-era policy that bars gays from serving openly in the military violates the First and Fifth Amendments. She said she will issue an order barring enforcement of the policy.

Disappointed by the ruling, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins commented, "Once again, homosexual activists have found a judicial activist who will aid in the advancement of their agenda. This is a decision for Congress that should be based upon the input of the men and women who serve and those who lead them."

In the 86-page opinion, Phillips rejected traditional arguments that the policy will create a military readiness and unit cohesion problem.

"Taken as a whole, the evidence introduced at trial shows that the effect of the Act has been, not to advance the Government`s interests of military readiness and unit cohesion, much less to do so significantly, but to harm that interest," she wrote.

"The testimony demonstrated that since its enactment in 1993, the Act has harmed efforts of the all-volunteer military to recruit," she wrote. "At the same time that the Act has caused the discharge of over 13,000 members of the military, including hundreds in critical occupations, the shortage of troops has caused the military to permit enlistment of those who earlier would have been denied entry because of their criminal records, their lack of education, or their lack of physical fitness."

The don`t ask, don`t tell policy, Phillips concluded, is not necessary to advance the U.S. government`s interests.

Perkins, a Marine veteran, rejected the conclusion.

"It is hard to believe that a District Court level judge in California knows more about what impacts military readiness than the service chiefs who are all on the record saying the law on homosexuality in the military should not be changed," he said in a statement.

The lawsuit was brought by Log Cabin Republicans, a national gay and lesbian Republican grassroots organization, in October 2004. The group contended that the policy violates the constitutional rights of its members and sought a permanent injunction. The case went to trial in July 2010.

The ruling comes months after the House voted in May to repeal the policy. The legislation is stalled in the Senate.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has advised members of Congress to wait until after the Pentagon finishes its review – due on Dec. 1 – of the effects of repealing DADT before changing the rule.

President Barack Obama has backed the repeal but sided with Gates. The White House worked out a compromise so that even if Congress passes a repeal of the policy, it would not be effective until after the Pentagon completes its study.

The U.S. Justice Department defended the policy before Phillips and was given time to appeal the ruling.

September 10, 2010
Calif. judge oversteps authority, orders stop to `don`t ask, don`t tell` policy
(OneNewsNow)  A federal judge said she will issue an order to halt the military`s "don`t ask, don`t tell" policy, after she declared the ban on openly homosexual service members unconstitutional. But a conservative military watchdog argues that a federal judge doesn`t have the authority to throw out a law that has been passed by Congress and consistently held up as constitutional by numerous other courts.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips declared on Thursday that the U.S. military`s ban on homosexual military service is unconstitutional because the ban violates the First Amendment rights of homosexual men and women. She said she will issue an injunction that would halt the enforcement of the 1993 law, which is often confused with Bill Clinton`s "don`t ask, don`t tell" policy. The ruling came as a result of a suit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.
 
Tommy Sears is executive director of the Michigan-based Center for Military Readiness. He accuses Judge Phillips -- like other activist judges -- of making a "power grab."
 
"It`s really breathtaking the kinds of reaches for power that rulings like this indicate on the part of activist judges, of which this [judge] is apparently one," states Sears. "She has definitely overreached, and I am certain that once this case is reviewed, if any kind of competent case is put on by the government at all, it will be overturned."
 
The Center for Military Readiness spokesman maintains Phillips` ruling is out of line with other cases dealing with this law. "The law in question...has been upheld as constitutional numerous times in all of the other circuits across the country," he points out. "It just happens to be in this rogue activist Ninth Circuit in California where you get these rulings out of line with the rest of the country."
 
Less than confident the Obama administration will vigorously pursue a repeal of the ruling, Sears argues that Congress needs to intervene. "We can`t take for granted anything that the Obama administration might or might not do with regard to the activist issues, particularly with regard to the gay agenda," he cautions.
 
"In this particular case, it just so happens to adversely impact our military," he continues. "I just think that that makes it more incumbent upon the Congress to exercise its authority and take back this power grab and overreach by this rouge judge out in California."
 
Sears says this ruling demonstrates why federal judges are not qualified to make policy for the military.

September 10, 2010
Conservative Leaders Mobilizing Christians to `Pray & A.C.T.` for America

(Christian Post)  Christians across America are being called upon to unite in prayer and fasting for the nation from Sept. 20 to Oct. 30 as America faces “unprecedented challenges.”

“We call on all faithful Christians to join us in the fight to defend life, protect and revitalize marriage, and preserve religious liberty and the rights of conscience,” says Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, who is spearheading the prayer effort.

“We must work tirelessly in all the ‘seven spheres of cultural influence,’” he adds, referring to the home; the church; civil government, law, and military; business and technology; education; media; and arts, entertainment and professional sports.

“The foundational moral principles of life, marriage and conscience need to be preached in our churches, affirmed in our daily conversations and demonstrated in our private decisions and our personal lives,” Garlow states.

While the prayer and fast official begin at 7:14 a.m. ET on Sept. 20 (based on 2 Chronicles 7:14), organizers of the effort have scheduled three webcasts before the kick-off to prepare participants for the 40-day effort.

The first of the three is scheduled for Sept. 4, and will take place 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. PT live from Sacramento, Calif. The second and third will take place from Washington, D.C., at 8 p.m. ET.

A fourth webcast has also been scheduled but will take place after the conclusion of the 40-day period – on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. ET. The fast will officially conclude at 7:14 a.m. ET on Oct. 30.

In addition to praying, participants of the “Pray & A.C.T.” effort are being encouraged to “Affirm the Basics” by signing the Manhattan Declaration, a statement that affirms the sanctity of life, sacredness of marriage, and the preservation of religious liberty – three foundational principles that organizers say are facing “unprecedented challenges.” Since its unveiling last November, the declaration has been signed by over 470,000 individuals.

Participants are also being encouraged to “Conform” their lives to their talk by engaging in compassionate acts during the 40-day effort and beyond.

Furthermore, participants are being encouraged to “Transform the culture” by working for the restoration of values. This includes “speaking up winsomely” for the three foundational principles and consistently voting in all elections for candidates who affirm the principles.

Notably, the 40-day effort comes ahead of this November`s midterm elections and has drawn the support of conservative leaders including Jim Daly of Focus on the Family; Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage; Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., of the High Impact Leadership Coalition; Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council; Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America; and Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association.

Other notable Christian leaders who have endorsed the effort are Vonette Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ International; Lou Engle of TheCall; Jack Hayford of The King`s College and Seminary; Ron Luce of Teen Mania; and Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Helping Garlow to lead the effort, meanwhile, is prominent conservative leader Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship.

In addition to the webcasts, "Pray & A.C.T." organizers have scheduled a national conference call for pastors to take place on Sept. 7 at noon ET.

September 10, 2010
Pro-Family groups warns of California`s Prop. 19 Impact on families

(The Howard Center) World Congress of Families with affiliates on five continents and members in 65 nations – warned of the dangers to children and families of California’s Proposition 19 on the November ballot, which legalizes marijuana in the state.

WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs noted: “In the past 40 years, liberal social experiments have taken a devastating toll on families and children.  Now, the same radicals who brought us no-fault divorce in the early 1970s are pushing drug legalization.”

Jacobs continued: “You don’t have to be an expert in the field to know that drugs hurt children, destroy families and ruin lives.  It is axiomatic that legalization leads to easier access to marijuana, which in turn leads to greater drug use.”

World Congress of Families V was held in Amsterdam in August 2009.  From 1984 to 1996, the Dutch liberalized their laws regarding possession and use of cannabis products.  As a result, marijuana use for young people (18-20 years of age) jumped from 15% in 1984 to 44% in 1986.

“Only the mothers and fathers who’ve seen their children’s lives destroyed by drugs –who’ve seen once promising futures literally go up in smoke – can understand the impact of drugs on families.  Those who use marijuana as adolescents are far more likely to graduate to heroin and cocaine,” Jacobs commented.

The World Congress of Families is proud to stand with groups like the Drug Free America Foundation, the League of California Cities, the Association of California School Administrators, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the California Police Chiefs’ Association and Save Our Society from Drugs in opposing Proposition 19.

In 2004, Drug Free America Foundation Executive Director Calvina Fay spoke on “Drug Legalization In The New Millennium” at World Congress of Families III.  Her speech may be accessed online at www.worldcongress.org/wcf3.

Dr. John Howard is the founder of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, parent organization of WCF.  Dr. Howard was a member of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (1971-73), the first Presidential Commission to consider the problem. His paper, “Legalized Marijuana: A Pending Disaster,” is available online at www.profam.org/docs/jah/thc.jah.marijuana.htm.

September 10, 2010
Eggsploitation: Women as Commodities

(Christian Post)  You’ve probably seen them-most of us have. Ads soliciting women to donate their eggs for in vitro fertilization are everywhere: in newspapers, on the Internet, on college campus bulletin boards.

 

Most people don’t even think twice about it. An opportunity for young women to earn a little cash and do something nice for an infertile couple, and it’s all supervised by doctors. What could be wrong with that?

Plenty, according to a new documentary. Eggsploitation, a film produced by the Center for Bioethics and Culture, tears down the façade to show the dark side of egg donation.

The makers of Eggsploitation openly acknowledge that much of their evidence is anecdotal-because it had to be. One of their main points, in fact, is that it’s deeply disturbing how little data has been collected about what’s become a multi-billion-dollar industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2007 “in the United States alone, over 17,000 reproductive technology cycles were performed using donated eggs.” And yet, in this massive business, no records are kept and no standard follow-up care is provided for the young women undergoing this procedure.

And the procedure itself is far more problematic than those upbeat ads would ever lead you to believe. The women involved are given hormones to force their bodies to produce far more eggs than they normally would-and that, as you might expect, leads to consequences.

The young women interviewed in this film talk about suffering from strokes, brain damage, internal bleeding, or infertility after the procedure. Some ended up with cancer, even those who had no family history of the disease. Others nearly died from complications of the surgery done to retrieve the eggs.

But the problems go beyond that. The women involved in egg donation are being exploited, essentially being turned into human commodities. “A woman has become a walking ovary” is how one researcher puts it in the film. The ideal woman for the job, a so-called “elite donor,” is one with a high I.Q., a sense of altruism, and a need for cash-hence the plethora of ads on college campuses. For all intents and purposes, these women are used and then thrown away.

They are providing genetic material for their own biological children, whom they may never have a chance to know. If they express any concerns or reservations, according to the young women interviewed in the film, they are pressured and even guilt-tripped into continuing.

And it’s only going to get worse because of the mania for embryonic stem cell research. It’s rarely mentioned by the media that all the eggs that help make those embryos have to come from somewhere-that is, from these young women who are not being advised of the risks to their own health.

“I urge every young woman I know not to do this,” says one young donor in the film who has good reason to regret what she did. We need to listen to her and other young women like her, instead of treating them like disposable objects in the fertility racket. Go to BreakPoint.org to find out more about how you can see this important film--and share it with every young woman you know.

September 10, 2010
Home schoolers victims of U.N. treaty
(OneNewsNow)  The U.S.-based Home School Legal Defense group fears a U.N. treaty is causing increasing problems for home schoolers in various countries.  The latest example involves four families in Botswana who have been ordered to send their children to public school.

In July, police and social workers raided the homes of the Seventh Day Adventist families and seized their teaching materials.  Despite evidence showing that the children were being well-cared for and that their education was being provided, the families were ordered to cease home education.
 
Mike Donnelly, director of international relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association, explains the state`s rationale:
 
"The magistrate judge basically said that these parents were products of the public school systems themselves, that [home schooling] was a cheap form of education, and that the children had a right to an education under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child -- and that the parents should therefore enroll their children in school."
 
Donnelly is concerned that countries like Botswana and Sweden are using the UNCRC against homeschooling families.
 
"The government officials in these countries all seem to interpret `the right to education` -- which is one of the clauses in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child -- to equal enrollment in public school...," says the HSLDA spokesman. "[I would argue that] is clearly not what is intended...but that`s how it`s being interpreted."
 
The Botswana families are determined to continue home schooling. "I must obey God," one father is quoted as saying.  "The schools here are corrupt and teach my children things that go against our faith and our values. I cannot allow them to go to these schools."
 
Donnelly is hoping for a stay in the judgment as well as intervention from government leaders.  The parents have been ordered to appear before the court today to report their compliance with the order.

September 10, 2010
Stem-cell funding reinstated ... for now

(OneNewsNow)  An appeals court has overturned a lower court`s decision to halt federal funding of research on human embryos.

The court of appeals has put a temporary, administrative halt on Federal Judge Royce Lamberth`s decision to end funding for the research while an emergency appeal from the government is considered. The Justice Department asked that the injunction be lifted as the decision is appealed, arguing the funding freeze was causing "irreparable" harm to researchers, the federal government, and the patients hoping for cures.

"[It`s] something the circuit court routinely does, and as the court itself said in the order, it does not signal any decision about the merits of the case either way," explains Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney Steven H. Aden. "We remain confident that when the circuit court has heard the voluminous evidence against the legality of experimentation on human embryos that it will agree with Judge Lamberth and put a stop to it."

He adds that the case will continue in the lower court, no matter which way the decision goes.

"We have filed extensive documentation of the position taken by our adult stem-cell researchers that embryonic stem-cell research is illegal, unethical, and unnecessary, given the incredible promise held by the burgeoning adult stem-cell research area," the ADF attorney explains.

The question at hand is whether the Obama administration violated federal law, which bars tax dollars for embryonic stem-cell research that results in killing a human embryo.

September 10, 2010
Billionaire Soros Donates $100 Million to Anti-Family, Anti-Faith Group
(CitizenLink)  Billionaire liberal activist George Soros announced today that he plans to donate $100 million to Human Rights Watch (HRW) – a “non-partisan, watch dog” organization that purports to alert the United Nations on human rights abuses.  HRW, however, is better known for demanding the closure of Guantanamo Bay and civilian trials for its detainees.

Soros said his intention was to transform the organization into an international force by expanding its presence in “emerging power centers,” including Brazil, Mexico, India and China.

Soros has long sought to undermine domestic and foreign policies – everything from marriage and life to U.S. support for Israel – through his active funding of counter-cultural groups including: Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good(pro-abortion), EMILY’s List (pro-abortion), National Organization for Women (NOW), Planned Parenthood (pro- abortion), Moveon.org, Democracy Alliance (progressive grassroots organization), Human Rights Campaign (pro-GLBT agenda), Open Society Institute (promotes “sex workers” rights, drug legalization, euthanasia, etc.), Earth Institute (“Green” agenda), the Center for American Progress (Think-tank for Obama Administration), Media Matters, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

In an interview with The New York Times, Soros’ long-standing hatred for all that the Bush administration represented seemed still fresh:

“I’m afraid the United States has lost the moral high ground under the Bush administration, but the principles that Human Rights Watch promotes have not lost their universal applicability,” he said. “So to be more effective, I think the organization has to be seen as more international, less an American organization.”

This is the first in a series of large financial gifts Soros plans to make – and he has the resources to do so. In the last eight months, Soros’ company, Quantum Endowment, profited greatly from the financial market chaos –and earned him $3.3 billion in fees and profits.

Interestingly, not every liberal is pleased with the donation. Liberal lawyer and author Alan Dershowitz wrote on his blog:

“Who is watching Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s best-financed and most influential human rights organizations? It turns out that they cook the books about facts, cheat on interviews, 

Billionaire Soros Donates $100 Million to Anti-Family, Anti-Faith Group

and put out pre-determined conclusions that are driven more by their ideology than by evidence. These are serious accusations, and they are demonstrably true.

“Human Rights Watch no longer deserves the support of real human rights advocates. Nor should its so-called reporting be credited by objective news organizations.”

September 10, 2010
Psychologist dumped for Christian work vindicated

(WorldNetDaily)  A Christian psychologist suspended by city of Minneapolis because of his ties to a pro-family organization has agreed to a $210,000 settlement from the city.

The Minneapolis City Council approved the settlement Friday with Dr. Michael Campion, who was represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, an alliance of evangelical Christian lawyers defending religious liberty.

As WND reported, the city suspended Campion from his contracted employment testing work shortly after officials learned of his affiliation with a Christian organization, the Illinois Family Institute.

ADF attorneys, which represented Campion free of charge, filed the lawsuit in September 2007.

"This settlement reinforces that the government shouldn`t penalize Christian contractors for their beliefs," said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Jim Campbell, who argued the case on behalf of Campion last year in federal district court.

Campbell noted the court already had issued a decision finding that the city of Minneapolis removed Campion because of his constitutionally protected involvement with a Christian organization.

The court said Campion`s "First Amendment interests appear to be strong."

"The city realized that it would likely lose this case and wisely decided to settle out of court," Campbell explained.

Campion, who taught at the University of Illinois College of Medicine for 18 years, had been sought by the U.S. Department of Justice for three research projects.

Hired by Minneapolis in 2005 as an independent contractor, he had a successful professional relationship with the city, ADF said, providing pre-employment testing, fitness-for-duty testing and other services.

City officials learned of Campion`s association with the Illinois Family Institute through an article in the weekly Illinois Times of Springfield, Ill., that criticized the relationship.

Minneapolis City Councilor Scott Benson demanded an investigation, and in July 2006, the city hired an independent psychological testing company to evaluate Campion. The results showed no evidence that his work was flawed or biased, ADF said, finding his processes to be consistent with, or beyond, expectations for good psychological and statistical practice.

But the city disregarded the analysis, according to ADF, and rescinded its agreement with Campion to conduct dozens of pre-hire screening tests. Instead, it hired another company with fewer qualifications at a significantly higher cost – $650 per evaluation, compared to Campion`s $395.

The complaint filed by the ADF said the author of the article, Dusty Rhodes, referred to Campion`s membership on the board of the IFI "and implied there may have been bias." The article was titled "Partial disclosure: Psychologist who screens firefighters is leader with anti-choice, anti-gay group."

The complaint argued, however, "There has never been any evidence Dr. Campion engaged in any form of discrimination in connection with his psychological testing."

In a subsequent article in the Illinois Times, titled "Last Straw," Rhodes said, "Campion leads a group of conservative activists called Illinois Family Institute. The group advocates for religious freedom and opposes abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, gambling, and decriminalization of any illegal drugs, needle exchanges, and civil rights protection for homosexuals."

The Illinois Family Institute`s executive director, David Smith, said in a previous statement that Campion`s "right to freedom of association is being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness."

"Does one have to embrace the homosexual activist and abortion causes to be able to exercise their First Amendment rights?" he asked.

September 10, 2010
`Parent-led, home-based education is now bordering on mainstream in the U.S.`

(WorldNetDaily)  This fall, as moms and dads around the country are getting backpacks stuffed with pencils and notebooks and scissors and glue, ready for their children to take to school, a rapidly increasing number of families are sending their children … nowhere.

Instead, more and more parents are opting to educate their children at home. In fact, statistics show the number of homeschooled students in the U.S. has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, making learning at home the fastest growing form of education in country.

"Homeschooling grew from 1.7 percent of the school age population in 1999 to 2.9 percent in 2007, a 74 percent relative increase over 8 years," states Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute.

And according to a NHERI fact sheet, those percentages have continued to climb. NHERI estimates the homeschooling movement has been growing at 5-12 percent per annum over the past several years, a quicker clip than private schools are growing, while public schools are seeing their percentages decline.

The total number of students now forgoing school buses for learning at home is best estimated in the neighborhood of 1.9 million - 2.5 million children.

"The increasing popularity of homeschooling should not come as a surprise," claims a statement from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, a popular periodical for home educators. "Parent-led, home-based education is now bordering on `mainstream` in the United States."

The claims are backed up by statistics from the U.S. Department of Education.

According to reports from the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly three-quarters of all students between the ages of 5 and 17 were in public schools in 1999, but that number has dropped to 70.6 percent by 2007.

Where did those students go?

Private schools, according to the data, saw about a 14-percent hike in attendance, while the homeschooling numbers jumped over 70 percent.

Other statistics over the same time period show even bigger increases in homeschooling rates among Hispanic families (91 percent), two-parent households (97 percent), children of college graduates (87 percent) and households making more that $75,000 per year (338 percent).

The numbers also show an increase in families choosing to homeschool their children through high school, rather than simply during the elementary years.

"Homeschooling high school is no longer uncharted territory," explains the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. "There are a multitude of homeschooled graduates who are bearing fruit in the workplace, in the military, in their families and in colleges across the country."

Gena Suarez, publisher of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, said in a statement that she is not at all surprised by the increased popularity of homeschooling: "During the past 30 years, homeschooling families have proven that parents can do a better job than the public school – socially and academically. Homeschooling works; everybody wins."

September 10, 2010
Iraqi Christians - even harder times ahead

(OneNewsNow)  An organization dedicated to persecuted Christians worldwide believes life for believers in Iraq will only get worse now that American combat troops are being pulled out of the country.

In last Tuesday night`s speech, President Obama formally ended the U.S. combat role in Iraq after seven years of fighting, declaring firmly: "It`s time to turn the page." But Dr. Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, believes the decision to yank the combat troops was premature.
 
"I believe that we`re turning this country over to a government that is in chaos -- it is in transition at best," states Moeller. "It hasn`t yet settled on a firm form of government. We have just basically said, `Please don`t disturb us as you collapse.`"
 
The Open Doors leader is concerned that a much-reduced U.S. presence will not bode well for the tiny Christian population in the Muslim-dominated country.
 
"We have very clear indicators from the ground that the Christian community in Iraq is suffering greatly by increased violence between factions of Islam," Moeller shares. "I`ve spoken at length with refugees all around the region [who are] saying it`s an unreported disaster -- the extinction of the Christian community in Iraq."
 
Moeller believes the persecution of Christians is going to accelerate as a result of the U.S. military pulling out.
 
On its most recent ranking of countries where Christians are persecuted, Iran trails only North Korea. (See Open Doors` World Watch List)

September 10, 2010
Calif. Court: State Does Not Need to Defend Prop. 8

(Christian Post)  The state of California does not need to defend its voter-approved marriage definition, a state appellate court decided this past week.

Without an explanation, the Third District Court of Appeals dismissed Thursday the lawsuit seeking to force Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown to defend Proposition 8 in the appeals case.

The Pacific Justice Institute – which filed the suit Aug. 30 on behalf of Joshua Beckley, pastor of Ecclesia Christian Fellowship church in San Bernardino – immediately appealed to the California Supreme Court.

The Sacramento-based legal group argues that Brown, the state’s top law enforcement officer, does not have the right to only defend laws he personally agrees with.

“To allow an elected official to trump the will of the people by mere inaction and the lack of fulfillment of their duty to do their job would be an egregious violation of public trust,” said PJI president Brad Dacus last week, according to The Associated Press.

Last month, supporters of Prop. 8 appealed the ruling of District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who determined that California’s marriage definition is unconstitutional.

While the case could lead to a Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, there is doubt as to whether California residents have a valid legal standing to appeal the case when the state’s governor and attorney general refuse to defend the measure.

Schwarzenegger and Brown were named defendants in the original case, but did not defend Prop. 8 in the proceedings to date. Walker had allowed supporters of the measure to defend it in place of the state during the original court hearing, but recently called into question whether ordinary citizens can defend a state marriage law.

If the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides that Prop. 8 supporters do not have legal standing and the state does not defend the measure, then the appeals case will be dismissed and same-sex marriage will be legal in California.

Faced with this possibility, PJI has been working to get California’s governor and attorney general on board the appeal.

The state has until Sept. 11 to challenge Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Ninth Circuit Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in December.

September 10, 2010
Scotland: Kids get green light to surf sexual sites

(WorldNetDaily)  Schools in one region of Scotland are lifting the Internet filters on their school computers so students will be able to access sexually explicit websites if they choose, according to a new report from the Christian Institute.

The institute`s report today said the move will impact thousands of children in the National Health Service`s Lanarkshire health board area who are being given access to the health board`s sexual health Web pages from school computers.

The website, among other things, includes graphic descriptions of "unconventional sex acts" and discusses how sexually transmitted infections are "as common as the cold," according to the report.

Critics are up in arms, with Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, charging, "School children don`t need to visit sexual health websites," and critics warning that it undermines parental guidance and authority.

"The more public money has been invested in programs to make it easier for young people to access contraception, the higher the rates of sexually transmitted infections have risen," Wells warned in the institute`s report.

"A lot of parents will be very concerned about this," said Eileen McCloy of the Not With My Child parental rights group. "They want to know what their children are doing on the Internet.

"Parental blocks exist to stop access to sites like these," she said.

The fundamental issues involved, however, are complicated for parents, since the U.K. has adopted the United Nation`s Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The document creates specific civil, economic, social, cultural and even economic rights for every child and states that "the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration." While the treaty states that parents or legal guardians "have primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child," experts say the government ultimately would decide if parents` decisions are good, and, therefore, to be followed.

Among the provisions of the convention is one stating that children have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.

The United States never has ratified the treaty, and there is an active campaign by Parental Rights.org to prevent that from happening.

Thirty-one U.S. senators already have signed on to a plan to oppose the convention, and only three more are needed to prevent its adoption since treaties demand support from two-thirds of the Senate.

In Scotland, the institute report confirms that the National Health Service site includes graphic descriptions of sex acts, offers free condoms, the morning-after pill and information on how to get an abortion.

The report said the websites probably won`t be used in sex education classes, which already have their own curriculum. But students will be allowed to reach the sites from school computers in libraries and computer rooms during their free time.

Among other provisions of the treaty, according to the Parental Rights website:

  • Parents no longer would be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.
  • A murderer aged 17 years, 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime no longer could be sentenced to life in prison.
  • Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.
  • The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent`s decision.
  • A child`s "right to be heard" would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.
  • According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children`s welfare.
  • Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.
  • Teaching children about Christianity in schools has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.

An education officer with the North Lanarkshire Council, Dave Craig, told the institute the program is good.

The report said the program is scheduled for expansion into the Forth Valley and Ayrshire and Arran, too.

The institute said it was uncovered a few months ago that Scottish children as young as 11 were being taken on outings to various "health" clinics where they were being given instruction in abortion, contraception and homosexuality by other students as young as 14.

The program, called Health Buddies, was taking place in Dundee. Once again, it was Wells who was a critic, saying, "Parents and teachers should not be abdicating their responsibilities in this way and using school children to offer advice in areas where they lack the necessary wisdom, experience and maturity."

Health officials in the Southampton area also recently created Charlie Condom, a character who promotes condoms to 13-year-olds. There are also reports that a Labour member of Parliament, Chris Bryant, repeatedly has tried to make sex education compulsory in all schools.

During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama promised he would pursue the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"It`s embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land," Obama said at the time. "I will review this and other treaties to ensure the United States resumes its global leadership in human rights."

Among other opponents, several states have adopted resolutions criticizing the treaty, including Louisiana, where lawmakers voted unanimously against it.

ParentalRights.org also advocates for an addition to the U.S. Constitution.

The amendment would state: "The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right."

It would add that, "Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served."

Lastly, it specifies, "No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article."

Along with its support in the Senate, it has more than 140 sponsors in the House. Under the Constitution`s amendment process, a plan approved by Congress would need to be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

Besides Louisiana, lawmakers in South Dakota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Michigan, California, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, North Carolina, New York and Utah have reviewed the issue.

The Christian Institute, run by Director Colin Hart, explains it exists for "the furtherance and promotion of the Christian religion in the United Kingdom" as well as "the advancement of education."

It is supported by individuals and churches throughout the U.K.

September 10, 2010
Wedlock irrelevant to teens

(Christian Post)  There appears to be a growing acceptance of children being conceived out of wedlock among the nation`s youth.

 In 2002, 25 percent of teenage males admitted to never having sex, the main reason for abstaining being the possibility of pregnancy. However, the latest figures show that number has dropped to 12 percent. Moreover, more male teenagers agree that it is okay for an unmarried female to have a child. That number rose from 50 percent to 64 percent in 2006-2008.

Jimmy Hester, co-founder of the True Love Waits program, speculates one of the reasons for this growing acceptance.

"A lot of celebrities...are modeling that kind of behavior, and our teenagers and young adults pay a lot of attention to those people; they are role models," he notes. "And so they`re seeing that kind of behavior going on, and I think it`s just becoming more acceptable for out-of-wedlock pregnancies to take place."

But Hester points out that Deuteronomy 23:2 instructs otherwise, so he thinks now is more important than ever for role models to be in the home and church.

"Parents...church leaders and other student leaders [need] to really hold up the correct behavior and the ideal response to that -- that it`s not okay for out-of-wedlock pregnancy," the True Love Waits co-founder contends. "That`s just not an appropriate behavior."

He adds that it is imperative for parents to teach their children the right kind of behavior and to be models within the home. That is why True Love Waits is about to launch a program to encourage parental involvement in their children`s chastity.

September 10, 2010
Physicist Stephen Hawking Takes on Sir Isaac Newton; Christians Respond

(Christian Post)  Physicist Stephen Hawking made headlines this past week for taking on arguably the most influential scientist in human history, Sir Isaac Newton.

Newton, who left enduring legacies in mathematics and the natural sciences, had centuries ago warned against using the law of gravity - which he discovered - to view the universe as a mere machine, like a great clock.

“Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done,” the 17th century scientist and non-Trinitarian Anglican stated.

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being,” he added.

Hawking, however, says “the universe can and will create itself from nothing” because there is a law such as gravity.

"Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” he writes in his soon-to-be-released book, The Grand Design. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper (fuse) and set the universe going."

While Hawking has long been known to be a deist – believing in the existence of an impersonal god on the evidence of reason and nature only – his denial of a personal god was notably more explicit in the excerpts from his latest work.

In The Grand Design, Hawking refers to the 1992 observation of a planet orbiting a star other than the sun and says it “makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions – the single sun, the lucky combination of Earth-sun distance and solar mass – far less remarkable, and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings."

Not surprising, Hawking’s comments sparked a number of responses from Christian apologists and theologians of different faiths.

In the United Kingdom, where Hawking resides, Denis Alexander, director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, said Hawking was “missing the point.”

"Science provides us with a wonderful narrative as to how [existence] may happen, but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative," he said, according to CNN.

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, similarly, accused Hawking of making a "misinterpretation" - one that he said "is damaging to religion and science in equal measure."

"Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation," he wrote in the U.K.-based Times, which first printed excerpts from The Grand Design on Thursday.

"Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean. They are different intellectual enterprises," Sacks added.

Meanwhile, in the United States, scholars at the ministry Reasons To Believe have argued against the idea that God is not necessary because laws such as gravity exist and said even with the laws there is the requirement for something that transcends the universe to bring it into being.

Hawking, said RTB research scholar Dr. Jeffrey Zweerink, “is putting the laws of physics or the mathematics on that basis of … this transcendent entity … that is ultimately responsible for the cause of the beginning of the universe.”

“It’s a transcendent impersonal entity but nonetheless it’s a transcendent entity,” he added.

Furthermore, RTB President and Founder Dr. Hugh Ross said there a “fundamental flaw” in Hawking’s reasoning.

“A fundamental flaw in this Hawking idea is that God is no longer personal, and yet we human beings are personal,” he said in his ministry’s podcast Friday. “We have a mind, we have a spirit, and you’re attributing the development of the human mind, the human spirit, the minds for that matter we see in the higher animals, the personalities that we see in all of us from completely impersonal soul-less and spirit-less laws of physics. How can the lesser produce the greater?”

Like Hawking, RTB scholars agree that God is "the Grand Mathematician” but go further by saying He is more than that.

And, they say, the laws of physics in nature "are a reflection of God’s intimate sustaining care for the universe.”

“From a naturalist perspective, there need not be any laws of physics," said Zweerink. "But from a Christian perspective, we expect to see these laws of physics given God’s character and what He’s revealed to us.”

With only excerpts of the book having been released, the discussion is expected to continue and expand with the release of Hawking’s upcoming book.

The book, co-authored by physicist Leonard Mlodinow, is scheduled to be published by Bantam Dell on Sept. 9.

The Grand Design is Hawking`s first major work in nearly a decade.

September 03, 2010
Principal threatens to fire teachers who help Christian club

(WorldNetDaily)  A principal who reportedly threatened to fire any teacher who helped with the organization of a campus Fellowship of Christian Athletes club is getting a warning letter from a civil rights organization.

The Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based civil liberties group, sent the letter to Don Curtis, principal of Wilson Middle School in Fishersville, Va.

"By intimidating teachers, through threat of termination, into refusing to provide the same types of administrative assistance to the FCA as are made available to other student groups, Principal Curtis has pitted himself in direct opposition to the spirit of the First Amendment," said Rutherford President John W. Whitehead.

"School administrators need to act immediately to correct the erroneous impression conveyed by the principal`s e-mail that religion has no place in the public schools," he said.

According to a report from WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg, Va., Curtis denied he meant for the note to teachers to stir up controversy or deter the group from forming. He told the station the "tone" of his memo to faculty members "was taken out of context."

The note, according to WHSV, explained students were trying to form a Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

"As I trust common sense and your elementary knowledge of the law should remind you, the Constitution includes an amendment that expects `The government will not establish any religion.` This has been legally stated and supported through case law, interpreted to mean for schools that the school or its employees will not perpetuate, support or establish any religion at school," the principal`s note said.

"This means teachers can`t support or participate in religious activities while in the official role of a teacher. … Be as religious as you want when you`re not in your official role as a teacher. Your official role as a teacher starts anytime you`re involved with students.

"Please check with me or your attorney if you need clarification so I can avoid termination proceedings for those of you that don`t believe me or wish to test this concept," Curtis wrote. "I`m being somewhat of a smart a&*, but I trust `You`re feeling me!`"

He subsequently explained that the e-mail was sent to faculty to remind teachers "to be professional."

"I presented this in my candid style, intended for my faculty. I`ve been told it was intimidating but I had no intention other than to remind the staff of my expectations of their legal and professional behavior," he explained.

There`s actually a little more to it than that, Whitehead wrote in his letter today to Curtis.

"While the First Amendment does prohibit the government from establishing a religion, it likewise prohibits the government from exhibiting hostility toward religion, interfering with the free exercise thereof, and discriminating against expressive activities based on the religious viewpoint of the expression," he explained.

"The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment does not permit government – including school officials – to subject religious individuals or groups to unique disabilities," Whitehead said.

"The United State Supreme Court has specifically addressed the issue of faculty involvement with religious student groups, and has ruled that such involvement does not conflict with constitutional principles where teachers or other school employees are merely involved with the club for purposes of administration or oversight," he said.

"I hope this information is helpful to you, and that you will use it to immediately correct the impression conveyed by your e-mail that the budding FCA group should be shunned by your staff," Whitehead wrote.

September 03, 2010
“Smart” Adult Stem Cells Heal Hearts

(Family Research Council Blog)  A group at the Mayo Clinic and their collaborators has published results showing that “guided” adult stem cells can effectively repair damaged heart tissue. The scientists isolated mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from the bone marrow of patients with coronary artery disease, “educated” the adult stem cells with a mixture of factors to stimulate growth as cardiac cells, and injected the cells into mice with damaged hearts. The hearts of the mice treated with the adult stem cells showed “superior functional and structural benefit without adverse side effects” over a 1-year follow-up. Compared to control mice, the hearts of the treated mice healed more effectively; with the human adult stem cells repairing and strengthening the hearts, including forming new heart cells. The paper is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

This new study provides another way to heal hearts with adult stem cells, perhaps increasing the efficiency of the treatment. Previous studies have already shown that bone marrow adult stem cells can effectively repair human hearts.

September 03, 2010
48% Say It’s Too Easy To Get An Abortion in America

(Rasmussen Reports)  Nearly half (48%) of U.S. voters continue to believe that an abortion is too easy to obtain in this country, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Fifteen percent (15%) say it’s too hard to get an abortion in America, and 23% think the level of difficulty is about right. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure.

This is in line with findings on this question in surveys for over four years now. 

Women (53%) feel more strongly than men (42%) that abortions are too easy to get.

Unchanged over the years is the belief held by 54% that abortion is morally wrong most of the time. Thirty-two percent (32%) disagree, and 14% more are undecided.

Again, 58% of women believe that abortion is morally wrong in most cases, compared to 49% of men.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of all voters describe themselves as pro-choice, while 43% say they are pro-life. Ninety-one percent (91%) of pro-life voters say abortion is morally wrong most of the time, but 61% of those who are pro-choice do not share that view.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 11-12, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95%level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters say abortion is at least somewhat important as an issue in terms of how they will vote in November, with 33% who say it is Very Important. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say it’s not very or not at all important to them as a voting issue.

But in terms of overall voter interest, abortion ranks well below 10 other issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports including the economy, government ethics and immigration.

Pro-life voters, however, are twice as likely as those who are pro-choice to say abortion as an issue is important to how they vote this fall.

Forty percent (40%) of voters trust Democrats more when it comes to the abortion issue, while 37% trust Republicans more. Twenty-three percent (23%) aren’t sure.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of pro-choice voters trust Democrats more. Sixty-six percent (66%) of those who are pro-life have more confidence in the GOP.

Ninety-three percent (93%) of the Political Class trust Democrats more on the abortion issue, while a plurality (48%) of Mainstream voters trust Republicans more.

For 60% of the Political Class though, abortion is not important in terms of how they will vote in November. Sixty-five percent (65%) of Mainstream voters, on the other hand, regard the issue as an important one when they vote.

But then 63% of voters in the Mainstream think abortion is morally wrong most of the time. Political Class voters are almost evenly divided on the question.

September 03, 2010
Birthrates, Marriage Rates and Divorce Rates Fell in 2009

(New York Times)   Three of life’s major milestones became a little scarcer last year.

The United States birthrate fell again in 2009, according to a report released Friday by the National Center for Health Statistics.

There were 13.5 births per 1,000 people last year, compared to a rate of 13.9 births per 1,000 people in 2008. In 2007, the rate was 14.3 births.

Here’s a chart showing the total number of births per year over the last century, courtesy of Calculated Risk:

The marriage and divorce rates also fell in 2009. The center estimates that there were 6.8 marriages per 1,000 people in 2009, after a rate of 7.1 and 7.3 marriages per 1,000 people in 2008 and 2007, respectively.

In the states for which data were available, there were 3.4 divorces per 1,000 people in 2009, following rates of 3.5 divorces per 1,000 people in 2008 and 3.6 divorces per 1,000 people in 2007.

September 03, 2010
The More the Merrier?

(American Spectator)  While the United States is occupied with the federal challenge to California`s Proposition 8, Canada has its own pending marriage case, which is likely headed for the Canadian Supreme Court

Canada, which redefined marriage nationwide to include same-sex couples in 2005, against the backdrop of successful provincial lawsuits against the country`s marriage law, could be moving on to bigger things -- literally. Specifically, polygamy and polyamory, as this case invokes the question of whether the government can continue to criminalize multiple-partner marriages. The case itself, initiated by the British Columbia Attorney General under a special provision of that Province`s law, arises in the wake of failed prosecutions of polygamous sect members in British Columbia.

Advocates of polygamy and polyamory seem to have an ally in the Law Commission of Canada, a statutory body of government appointees who propose changes to modernize Canadian law and report to the Justice Ministry. In 2001, the Commission issued a report, Beyond Conjugality: Recognizing and Supporting Close Personal Adult Relationships, that questioned the continuing illegality of consensual polygamy in Canada.

Recently, the case has been uniquely complicated by an intervening interest group called the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association. The Association is seeking an adjudication of sorts that the Canadian laws regarding polygamy (one man with more than one wife) do not apply to polyamory ("multiple conjugal relationships"). CPAA`s "twist" on the law is that polyamory is just fine, and ought to be allowed, while polygamy can remain unsuitable for Canadian society. The rationale for their argument is the contention that, beyond the social science data that shows it is harmful, polygamy promotes gender inequality, and often involves coercion.

"Polyamory," by contrast, is strictly egalitarian and consensual, according to CPAA, and thus does not involve or promote one gender over the other. Affidavits filed in court detail (1) a woman and her male partner who live and have relationships with two other adults in the household (they also have a child living in the home) and who have agreed that each can pursue relationships with others, (2) a woman who lives with two other men (two of her teenage sons also live in the home), (3) a husband and wife who live with another adult (and the married couples` two young children and the third person`s teenage children), and (4) a man who lives with a woman and another man (with whom he is raising a two-year-old child). Polyamory advocates also tout a lack of social science evidence showing any harm from its practice. In other words, the CPAA is arguing that since you can`t prove that polyamory is bad for society, it must be good. By this rationale, we can all rest assured that Jimmy Hoffa is alive and well.

It may also be true that there is a dearth of published studies of harm caused by polyamory. This would not be surprising given the novelty of the practice and its small set of practitioners. There seems to be no shortage of breathless stories in newspapers and magazines about these kinds of arrangements but these do not equate to research. Any study of polyamorous "families" is likely to be plagued by methodological difficulties -- large holes in data, voluntary samples, reliance on self-reporting, small sample sizes, poor comparisons, and misplaced focus.

Even if the courts accept the egalitarianism, consent, and no data arguments as true, the proposed distinction between multiple-wife polygamy and polyamory in terms of social harms is spurious. In fact, it may be the case that acceptance of polyamory would, if possible, be more harmful.

For instance, the social science data we do have on children who experience a succession of relationships with parents` cohabiting partners (a kind of de facto serial polyamory, or as the sociologists call it, "multiple partner fertility") is not encouraging (here and here). They are at higher risk for abuse, behavioral problems, and household instability. The presence of two sets of unrelated children mentioned in some of the affidavits also does not sound promising for the well-being of younger children. We should not be sanguine, therefore, that children raised in polyamorous homes will be just fine.

If we take seriously the idea that marriage laws have an educative function, polyamory raises red flags. On each of the core functions of marriage -- promoting fidelity, providing a tie between children and parents, securing permanence for spouses and their children -- polyamory seems particularly harmful. Both traditional polygamy and polyamory promote types of infidelity (though the former is of a more orderly variety), of course, but the chaos of polyamory blurs distinctions of parenthood more significantly than does a setting where a child has an established set of parents and lots of half-siblings. The ethic of "choice" at the root of polyamory does not bode well for permanence either.

As complicated as the day to day existence must be for children in homes with multiple adults acting as "parents," the breakup of polyamorous relationships would be dramatically more complicated for children. There would be an exponential increase in the possible divisions of a child`s time, of decision-making authority and demands for the child`s loyalty, when the dispute involves three or more people than when only two disputants are involved.

Clearly, when it comes to marriage, the adage "the more the merrier" does not apply.

September 03, 2010
Over 8 in 10 Worldwide See Religion as Important

(Christian Post)  More than eight in ten adults in the world say religion is an important part of their daily lives, according to Gallup surveys conducted last year in 114 countries. And, as past surveys have found, there remains a strong correlation between a country`s socioeconomic status and the religiosity of its residents.

In the world`s poorest countries – those with average per-capita incomes of $2,000 or less – the median proportion who say religion is important in their daily lives is 95 percent, reported Gallup on Tuesday.

In contrast, the median for the richest countries – those with average per-capita incomes over $25,000 – is 47 percent.

“Social scientists have put forth numerous possible explanations for the relationship between the religiosity of a population and its average income level,” noted Gallup editor Steve Crabtree.

“One theory is that religion plays a more functional role in the world`s poorest countries, helping many residents cope with a daily struggle to provide for themselves and their families. A previous Gallup analysis supports this idea,” he added.

In Gallup’s 2009 analysis of surveys conducted in 143 countries in the three years prior, the organization found that a relationship between religiosity and emotional well-being is stronger among those in poor countries than among those in the developed world.

In its latest report, Gallup said religion was found to be important for 95 percent of people in countries with $2,000 or less per-capita income. And for countries with per-capita income over $2,000 but less than $5,000, 92 percent of people said religion is an important part of their daily life.

After $5,000, the figures dip more, with 82 percent deeming religion as important in countries within the $5,001-12,500 group. For $12,501-25,000, 70 percent said the same. And for countries with per-capita income over $25,001, only 47 percent said religion is an important part of their daily life.

As in past surveys, however, the United States is among the rich countries that buck the trend. According to Gallup’s latest survey, 65 percent of Americans say religion is important in their daily lives. Other high-income countries more likely to stress the importance of religion include Italy, Greece, Singapore, and countries in the Persian Gulf.

The top six countries with the highest percentage of people placing importance on religion were found to be Bangladesh, Niger, Yemen, Indonesia, Malawi, and Sri Lanka – with at least 99 percent in each reporting religion as important in their daily lives.

The six countries with the lowest percentages were Estonia (16 percent), Sweden (17 percent), Denmark (19 percent), Japan (24 percent), and Hong Kong (24 percent).

Results of Gallup’s surveys are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted in 2009 with approximately 1,000 adults in each country.

September 03, 2010
Britain’s Leading Gay Activist Calls for Lowering of Age of Consent to 14

(LifeSiteNews)  One of Britain’s leading homosexualist activists has called again for the lowering of the age of sexual consent from 16 to 14, saying that this will reduce incidents of sexual abuse of young people. Peter Tatchell, founder of the group OutRage!, wrote on the website Big Think, “Whether we like it or not, many teenagers have their first sexual experience around the ages of 14 or 15.”

“If we want to protect young people, and I do, the best way to do this is not by threatening them with arrest, but by giving them frank, high quality sex and relationship education from an early age.

“This includes empowering them with the skills, knowledge and confidence to say no to unwanted sexual advances and to report sex abusers. Compared to the blanket criminalization of sexually-active under-age youth, this empowerment strategy is a more effective way to protect young people from peer pressure and pedophiles.”

A higher age of consent actually puts young teens at greater risk of abuse by “reinforcing the idea that young people under 16 have no sexual rights,” Tatchell said. “They signal that a young person is not capable of making a rational, moral choice about when to have sex.”

“Guilt and shame about sex also increase the likelihood of molestation by encouraging the furtiveness and secrecy on which abuse thrives,” he added.

“Despite what the puritans and sex-haters say, underage sex is mostly consenting, safe, and fun,” Tatchell said. “If there is harm caused, it is usually not as a result of sex, per se, but because of emotional abuse within relationships and because of unsafe sex, which can pass on infections and make young girls pregnant when they are not ready for motherhood.”

OutRage! has long lobbied for the lowering of the age of consent in Britain, which was already lowered for homosexual acts from age 21 in 1994 and again in 2000 to 16, after heavy lobbying by homosexualist activists.

Carolyn Moynihan, an Auckland journalist with a special interest in family issues, responded at Mercatornet, saying it is “a little bit surprising” that Tatchell has made the suggestion at the time when he is part of a protest against Pope Benedict, whom he accuses of failing to protect young people from sexual predators.

Moynihan said, “Of course there will always be underage people who have sex, but that doesn’t mean the law should condone it. Sex is a very complicated part of human behavior that is too nuanced for young people to understand.”

She cited studies that have shown that young people, especially girls, who have sex at early ages often regret it. She quotes Daily Telegraph columnist David Lindsay saying, “Sex is for people who can cope with the consequences, physical and otherwise. In a word, adults.”

September 03, 2010
U.S. Pediatricians Decry Media`s Portrayal of Sex

(HealthDay News) -- The nation`s leading group of pediatricians has issued a strong policy statement directed toward pediatricians, parents and the media on the danger of messages American teens and children are getting about sex from television, the Internet and other media outlets.

The statement, Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media, was published online Aug. 30 and in the September print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

"The media represents arguably the leading sex educator in America today," said Dr. Victor Strasburger, the lead author of the paper. "We do such a poor job of educating kids about sex in sex education classes in school, and parents are notoriously shy about talking to kids about sex. The media picks up the slack."

Seventy percent of teen shows contain sexual content, Strasburger added, "and less than 10 percent of that content involves what anyone would classify as being responsible content. There`s no mention of contracting an STD [sexually transmitted disease] or the need to wait to have sex until later."

The United States leads the western world in teen pregnancy rates and American teens have an alarmingly high rate of STDs -- one in four children.

Meanwhile, U.S. children spend seven hours and more a day with various types of often-sexually explicit media, including music, movies, television shows, magazines and the Internet.

"The research shows us that the portrayal of sex in the media is really unrealistic. It`s unhealthy. It doesn`t consider the consequences of sexual behavior," said Alan Delamater, professor and director of child psychology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "This is what our kids are growing up thinking. This is what sex is about. To deny its impact is ignorant because there`s so much knowledge of it at this point."

Many pediatricians would like to flip the equation and see media outlets introduce more responsible programming.

"Media has an opportunity to continue doing the same old thing, which is to have an adverse effect on child development, or turn it around and shape attitudes and behavior that could have a positive effect on child development," Delamater said.

The statement contains a number of recommendations for parents, physicians and the media.

"We want physicians to ask two media questions at every well-child visit: how much entertainment screen time per day does the child engage in, and is there a TV set or Internet connection in his or her bedroom," said Strasburger, professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. "That takes 20 seconds and may be more important than asking about childproofing or car seats or bicycle helmets."

The authors of the statement ideally would like ads for erectile dysfunction drugs to not be shown on TV until after 10 p.m.

"Half a billion dollars of ads for erectile dysfunction drugs and virtually no ads for birth control pills or condoms or emergency contraception," Strasburger said. "There`s not a single shred of evidence that exposing kids to birth control ads or even making birth control available to them makes them sexually active at a younger age. We`re doing things completely backwards."

There should also be more attention paid to how kids use social networking sites on the Internet. And parents can use media story lines as teaching tools to discuss sex with their children, instead of having "the big talk," the statement said.

On the more idealistic side, the statement also recommends that advertisers no longer use sex to sell a wide range of products.

"We want parents to realize that kids are spending more time with media than in any other activity but sleeping, and that the media represents a powerful source of information and in this case a powerful sex educator," Strasburger said.

More information

To learn more about children and the media, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.

September 03, 2010
Ground Zero Mosque May Get Public Financing

(NewsMax)  The Muslim center planned near the site of the World Trade Center attack could qualify for tax-free financing, a spokesman for City Comptroller John Liu said on Friday, and Liu is willing to consider approving the public subsidy.

The Democratic comptroller`s spokesman, Scott Sieber, said Liu supported the project. The center has sparked an intense debate over U.S. religious freedoms and the sanctity of the Trade Center site, where nearly 3,000 perished in the September 11, 2001 attack.

"If it turns out to be financially feasible and if they can demonstrate an ability to pay off the bonds and comply with the laws concerning tax-exempt financing, we`d certainly consider it," Sieber told Reuters.

Spokesmen for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor David Paterson and the Islamic center and were not immediately available.

The proposed center, two blocks from the Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, has caused a split between people who lost relatives and friends in the attack, as well as conservative politicians, and those who support the project. Among those who support it are the mayor, civic and religious groups, and some families of victims.

The mosque`s backers hope to raise a total of $70 million in tax-exempt debt to build the center, according to the New York Times. Tax laws allow such funding for religiously affiliated non-profits if they can prove the facility will benefit the general public and their religious activities are funded separately.

The bonds could be issued through a local development corporation created for this purpose, experts said.

The Islamic center would have to repay the bonds, which likely would be less expensive than taxable debt.

New York City`s Industrial Development Authority could not issue debt for the center because the state civic facilities law, which governed this type of financing for non-profits, was allowed to expire about two years ago.

September 03, 2010
Beck: Possible 650,000 Attended

(NewMax)  One day after the massive “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington D.C., both organizer Glenn Beck and pundits from all over the map debated the size of the crowd.

Beck himself estimated the crowd numbering between 300,000 and 650,000 during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” Others ranged downward but generally reported that the crowded at least topped 100,000 people.


Beck said the event, meant to honor the U.S. military, was not supposed to be political, and for the most part, politics were left out of the conversation.


"The message I was trying to send was be your highest self and stand in the burning bush, stand in the fire, because that`s the only thing that`s going to save us," he said. "I`ve come to the place where I believe there`s no way to solve these problems, these issues ... unless we solve it through God, unless we solve it through being our highest self, and that`s a pretty tall order."


Beck also told Fox host Chris Wallace that he wanted to amend his now notorious statement that President Barack Obama is a racist.


"I have a big fat mouth sometimes and I say things, and that`s not the way people should behave," Beck said. While he didn`t apologize he said he regretted saying a year ago that Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people" because it`s not accurate.


"I didn`t understand, really, his theology," Beck added. "I think that it is much more of a theological question that he is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor and victim."


Beck described liberation theology, which teaches that salvation for the individual is dependent on salvation for the collective through economic and social justice, as the message that was preached by Obama`s ex-pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.


"I`m not judging (Obama) for that," he said. "I`m not demonizing it. I disagree with it."


Beck, a Mormon, said most Christians don`t believe in liberation theology.


"That is a direct opposite of what the gospel is talking about," said Beck."It`s Marxism disguised as religion."


Beck noted that the Founding Fathers warned that if people turned from God, the country would be at risk.


"Let`s take them as people who knew what they were talking about. Let`s try the whole turning back to God thing and see what happens," he said.


Meanwhile, the number debate over crowd size raged on at various websites on Sunday. What’s the big deal over numbers? Estimates are politically charged and can signal either the gravitas of a major movement in the making or a protest that has lost its steam.


In Beck’s case, though, few observers on either end of the political spectrum saw it as anything but a major event for the tea party movement and conservative politics in general. No matter what the actual numbers, Beck sent a clear signal to Washington and the Obama administration that the grassroots anger over the direction of government has to be taken seriously.


“Neither Democrats nor Republicans can afford to ignore the antiestablishment fervor displayed Saturday during Beck`s rally that took on the tone of an evangelical revival,” the Associated Press reported. “Billed as a nonpolitical event, it nevertheless was a clarifying moment for those curious as to what clout an anti-Washington sentiment could have on midterm congressional elections in November.”


U.S. Park Police, burned by previous controversies, no longer makes crowd estimates. So there are no official estimates of crowd size at events on the National Mall.


So here are the leading estimates from major media:

  • CBS News took a scientific approach, commissioning a crowd estimate by the company AirPhotosLive.com. The network reported that AirPhotosLive estimated the crowd at 87,000 people. But they noted that with a margin of error of 9,000, “between 78,000 and 96,000 attended the rally.”
  • The NBC Nightly News estimated the number of people in attendance as “tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands.”
  • The Washington Post noted that Beck told the crowd Saturday that he had heard “it was between 300,000 and 500,000." It offered no protest to that but in several stories used the phrase “tens of thousands.” Both The New York Times and the Associated Press used similar phrasing.
  • Fox News in its own coverage offered that “hundreds of thousands of Americans,” at the event.
September 03, 2010
Recession taking toll on homeless shelters

(OneNewsNow)  Due to the rising demands of the economy, the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles will begin charging for services starting next month. But another local shelter is trusting God to provide for its needs as it struggles to meet the increasing demand.

In an announcement August 20, officials stated that the Union Rescue Mission will begin charging seven dollars a night for 50 of its beds (25 for men, 25 for women) in order to keep up with the high demand for homeless services. In light of the economic crisis, the mission has seen a rising need for its services. However, even though many families who depend on the shelter are working homeless, the organization will not turn away anyone who cannot pay.

The Union Rescue Mission currently has a total of 476 beds -- 208 of which are designated for females and 268 for males. The shelter will use five dollars of the charge to pay for programs the ministry manages, and the remaining two dollars will be saved for the individuals in need.

Willie Jordan is president of Fred Jordan Missions, a ministry that helps impoverished, needy families and individuals in inner-city Los Angeles. She believes it is crucial that the working homeless have a basic understanding of paying for necessities. "I have no problem with that," Jordan notes. "If a person is working -- it may be minimum wage, but still, they need to learn responsibility."

Willie Jordan (Fred Jordan Missions)She reports that income among all non-profit ministries has been down in the last 18 months, but her organization has seen an increase in the number of families and single adults who come to the shelter for aid. The mission, which is in its 66th year of service, has cut back on staff and services due to the recession. But despite the layoffs, Jordan says the Fred Jordan Mission will never charge for food or basic services.

"Not on my watch," she affirms. "As long as I am here, we won`t charge. We are here because God called us. In some way, he always meets the needs."

Fred Jordan Missions, which served 600,000 meals last year, has been providing food, shelter, and resources for those in need in Los Angeles since 1944. Among its services, it also provides back-to-school items every year -- backpacks, shoes, socks and supplies -- for 5,000 children.

Jordan, a mother of seven, notes that her children have never gone hungry. She believes that being able to feed a hungry child is one of the greatest joys a person can experience.

"We will continue as long as the Lord keeps our doors open," she declares. "We are committed to one thing: bread -- Jesus, the bread of life, and bread for the hungry people. I look at every hungry, homeless [and needy individual] as those who Jesus referred to as `the least of these.`"

She concludes that "when people see that our love is real, that makes God`s love real to them."

September 03, 2010
Ky. High Court: Christian Healthcare Program is Insurance

(Christian Post)  A community-based healthcare program for Christians that receives money from its participants and distributes the funds to help others pay medical bills qualifies as an insurance program, ruled the Kentucky Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The divided court determined that Christian Care Ministry’s Medi-Share program "fits comfortably within the statutory definition of an insurance contract" because it shifts the risk of payments for medical expenses from the individual to a pool of people paying into the program.

"Thus, regardless of how Medi-Share defines itself or what disclaimers it includes in its literature, in the final analysis, there is a shifting of risk," Justice Daniel J. Venters wrote for the court.

The court also found that Medi-Share doesn`t qualify for the Religious Publication Exemption to Kentucky`s insurance code because the funds paid into the program go to a pool and not directly from one person to another, a requirement to be excluded from regulations.

Medi-Share, which has been running for the past 17 years, is a health program for Christians “who want their healthcare dollars to help fellow believers who are living the same lifestyles they are, based on biblical principles and service to others,” according to Christian Care Ministry’s website.

Members are required to live a lifestyle that abstains from smoking, excessive drinking, and using illegal drugs. The plan also does not allow applicants who have pre-existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.

Each month, members contribute their part to a fund that is split up among the Medi-Share members when they are in need of medical care.

Christian Care Ministry publishes a disclaimer that says Medi-Share does not guarantee the payment of medical bills as members choose which medical bills will and won’t be covered by the plan.

The not-for-profit corporation also states prominently that the program should not be considered a substitute for an insurance policy.

Currently, the program serves nearly 40,000 Christians in 49 states and generates $42 million a year.

Medi-Share officials are presently looking over Thursday’s ruling and, at the time of report, did not have any immediate comments.

In 2007, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled that the Medi-Share program isn’t insurance and therefore doesn’t violate the state’s insurance laws. The Kentucky Court of Appeals agreed.

Seeking to reverse the two lower court decisions, the Kentucky attorney general`s office appealed. The program has about 300 families in Kentucky.

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