Kentucky Baptists were victorious in their effort to stop seven casinos from entering the state when a bill fell short of the votes it needed in the state Senate Feb. 23, reports Baptist Press. For more than a decade, Kentucky legislators have debated the idea of expanding gambling in the state beyond the lottery and horseracing tracks they already have. The measure, defeated Feb. 23 by a vote of 21–16, would have placed the issue on the ballot in November. The day after the bill’s defeat, Hershael York, pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort and preaching professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, prayed Psalm 118 in Hebrew as an invocation in the Senate. In English, the psalm begins, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” York led Kentucky Baptists’ effort in stopping expanded gambling, stirring controversy in January by leading a joint session of the legislature in a prayer for God to defeat the governor’s chief legislative proposal. “Help us to admit that we cannot truly love our neighbor as ourselves and then scheme to get his money by enticing him with vain hope,” York prayed. York, a former president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, also organized a rally at the state capitol Feb. 21 in which about 250 pastors and concerned citizens from various denominations spoke out against gambling. Adam Greenway, president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and assistant professor of evangelism at Southern Seminary, said gambling is a wrong way for states to generate revenue. “Given our first conviction to biblical authority and doing what is right in the eyes of God, it is our belief that the state has the mandate to promote the general welfare, not exploit people,” Greenway said. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary, addressed the issue of gambling in blog posts at albertmohler.com. “The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God’s Word,” Mohler wrote Feb. 20. “The basic impulse behind gambling is greed—a basic sin that is the father of many other evils. Greed, covetousness, and avarice are repeatedly addressed by Scripture—always presented as a sin against God, and often accompanied by a graphic warning of the destruction which is greed’s result. The burning desire for earthly riches leads to frustration and spiritual death.”
- Obama is more deferential to the religious sensibilities of Muslims in Afghanistan than to the religious freedom of Catholics in the United States, charges Terence P. Jeffrey in cnsnews.com. Jeffrey wrote, “People should not burn Korans, period. To burn a Koran, whether as a premeditated act of spite or as a boneheaded mistake, is wrong. That being said, the Korans burned at Bagram Air Force in Afghanistan were burned as the result of a boneheaded mistake—not as a conscious effort to affront Muslims. Here in the United States, President Obama’s decision to order Roman Catholics to act against the teachings of their faith by forcing Catholics to buy insurance that pays for sterilizations, artificial contraceptives and abortifacients was not made by mistake. Obama did it with long and careful premeditation–fully understanding that the Catholic Church would (correctly) perceive the regulation as a very serious and direct attack on the free exercise of religion by Catholics.” Cowboybyte.com reports that former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton says that President Barack Obama’s readiness to apologize for an apparently accidental Koran-burning incident is a signal of weakness that actually incites further unrest.
- The Thomas More Law Center has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on behalf of Elaine Donnelly and the Center for Military Readiness. It seeks to obtain records the plaintiffs believe will show the Pentagon’s intentional deception to gain congressional support for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the 1993 law regarding open homosexual conduct in the military. “This did not respect the true feelings of our military whatsoever,” contends Erin Mersino, trial counsel at TMLC. “The congressional repeal was based on false information, and the studies were not done appropriately. Secondly, there were supposed to be policies and regulations in place to ensure military effectiveness, and that was not completed.” In addition, she says the Defense Department and the Department of the Navy have failed to produce any documents over the last two years that would uncover the truth surrounding the congressional repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Donnelly says the public has the right to know the truth about a story published by The Washington Post in November 2010 that pushed President Obama’s agenda, “pretending that the majority of military people were just fine with repeal of the law. Well, the Department of Defense inspector general did find out that that story was actually being crafted and pre-scripted before the vaunted survey of the troops even began,” the CMA president reports. Mersino told OneNewsNow that the goal of the lawsuit is to turn back the clock—”to have the law changed back to what it used to be, to have the repeal reversed with new legislation.” Donnelly is confident that the court will order that the requested documents to be released.
- Newsmax.com has posed a question suggesting that Google is out to smear GOP hopeful Rick Santorum. The report noted, “Type the word ‘Santorum’ in Google and you won’t find his campaign website or other positive, useful information about him in the first, second or even third entries. In fact, almost every entry on the all-important first page of ‘Santorum’ results—the one most users see—is laden with nasty, sometimes vulgar attacks. Santorum himself says that Google is treating him with a double standard and addressed the high-tech aspersions cast against him, via what the media has euphemistically called ‘Santorum’s Google problem.’ He spoke with Google chief Eric Schmidt prior to the debate that was sponsored by Google. ‘All I know,’ Santorum told ABC News, ‘is that with respect to Michelle Obama there was a situation with her that they quote fixed, there was a situation with President Obama they quote fixed, there was a situation with President Bush they fixed. And they’ve decided this doesn’t rise to the level that they need to address. There are those frankly on the left and the right that have written about this and suggested that there is a little bit of, well, duplicity on their part as to their excuse.’ Google’s anti-Santorum bias, real or imagined, may be costing him votes.”
- A former congressman is warning that Barack Obama is playing politics instead of watching over national security by manipulating a military aviation contract to be awarded to an unfriendly nation, while refusing to allow an American company with a track record from competing for the work, reports Patriot Update. Todd Tiahrt, a former congressman from Kansas who now runs an aerospace and aviation consulting company, says despite Obama’s claims on the campaign trail that he wants to create jobs in America, his actions show the only jobs he is interested in creating are in other countries. The Air Force put out a request for 20 light attack aircraft to be used in Afghanistan. Hawker-Beechcraft, an American-based company with 80 years of aviation experience, designed the AT-6, a slightly modified version of a T-6 trainer that has been in production since 1999 to meet the Air Force’s needs. The military previously had purchased more than 725 T-6s, which are used for training. “There is nothing the USAF doesn’t know about that airframe. Taxpayers have invested in the T-6 program since 1997,” Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture said. The AT-6 also has successfully test fired every weapon in the U.S. and NATO inventory it is capable of carrying. The aircraft achieved another milestone this month when it became the first fixed-wing aircraft to successfully employ laser-guided rockets, he said. If given the contract, Hawker Beechcraft said it would have created 1,400 American jobs, with a large portion of them going to military veterans. By contrast the only other competitor for the contract, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s proposal, called for the creation of only 50 jobs with the aircraft being built in Brazil.
- While young people in the United States are suffering record levels of unemployment, the State Department is already hiring foreign students for summer jobs that won’t be available when Americans start looking for summer work later this year, reports newsmax.com. The Summer Work Travel program each year admits more than 100,000 students from around the world to work at American beaches, restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, factories, and other establishments. The State Department calls SWT a “cultural exchange” intended to showcase the American way of life and win friends among future world leaders. State Department-designated sponsoring agencies team with foreign partners to recruit students, help them obtain visas, and match them with employees. Participants and their employers are exempt from Social Security, Medicare, and federal unemployment taxes, according to Jerry Kammer, a senior research fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. “Unfortunately, as the program has boomed—from about 20,000 in 1996 to a peak of 153,000 in 2008—it has denied a place in the workforce for many American young people, who are now suffering record levels of unemployment,” Kammer wrote in the Baltimore Sun. One parent who spoke with Kammer, Sarah Ann Smith, said her teenage son’s dishwashing schedule at a restaurant went from 24 hours a week before SWT workers arrived to zero hours after six foreigners began working there. “It’s wrong to have a program that allows foreign kids to come in and take jobs that American kids need,” said Smith. “SWT is out of control.” Fortunately, the State Department is now conducting a review of the SWT program, said the report. “Much of our nation’s immigration policy—for both temporary visitors and permanent residents—is made with little concern for its impact on American society,” Kammer observes. “Reevaluating SWT is a first step toward changing that.”
- A Kuwaiti parliamentarian will soon draft legislation banning the construction of churches and other non-Islamic places of worship in the tiny emirate, reports Worthy News. Kuwaiti Member of Parliament Osama Al-Munawer first announced on Twitter that he planned to submit a law calling for the removal of all churches in the country, but later explained that existing churches will remain as only the construction of new non-Islamic places of worship should be banned. Fellow MP Mohammad Hayef supported the proposed law. “Kuwait already has an excessive number of churches compared to the country’s Christian minority,” he said in the Kuwait Times.
- Secret police officers and other officials raided the Sunday worship service of an unregistered ethnic Korean Baptist Church in the town of Chirchik in Tashkent Region of Uzbekistan on Feb. 5, reports Worthy News. Police Inspector Otabek Alimov, Urtachirchik District and Nurmina Askarova, chair of the local Mahalla Committee, were among the 10 officials who raided the 9 a.m. worship service; they confiscated a sound amplifier, microphone, keyboard, projector, hymnals, audio cassettes, and DVDs. The officials said that the confiscated items would be sent to the state Religious Affairs Committee for “expert analysis”; they then charged Pastor Vyacheslav Kim under Administrative Code Article 184-2: Illegal production, storage, or import into Uzbekistan with a purpose to distribute religious materials. “We warned them many times that they should register with the state,” Askarova told Forum 18. When asked why the Korean Baptists can’t meet in private homes for worship, she said they should instead attend a registered church.