Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, issued comments on the current focus on the Boy Scouts of America and a probable change in their long-standing policy against allowing openly practicing homosexuals into positions of leadership in their national scouting organization, reports Baptist Press. Said Page, “Little did I know when I called on Southern Baptists to dedicate 2013 as a year of prayer for spiritual awakening that we would have so much to pray for so early into the New Year. When I received a call from the Boy Scouts two weeks ago asking for a face-to-face meeting, I somehow knew it would not be good. I was gravely distressed. But, what was even more distressing was to hear how far down the path toward change they had already traveled. After a time of prayer and consultation with several other leaders, including our SBC president Fred Luter, I sent a letter asking them to reconsider. On Monday (Jan. 28), I was on a conference call with three of their top leaders. What a distressing moment! I learned that their recommendation to the full board was already formalized before we were even informed a change was being considered. Is there a ray of light at the end of this tunnel? Is there a silver lining to this ominous cloud hanging over an organization I have lauded and loved? Yes, there is. First, there is worship. . . . We must never forget that God is still on His throne! Second, there is providence. I find it very interesting that the Scouts themselves set the first Sunday in February (this weekend, Feb. 3) as Scout Sunday. This means that across our nation, thousands of churches will be focusing their attention on the Boy Scouts. I strongly urge every Southern Baptist member and congregation to direct our prayers toward the heavenly Father that the board members will reject this recommendation. Focused prayer on Sunday; board meeting on Monday. What a divine moment! Third, there is action. While we pray, let us act. I was told by the Scout leaders that they have received petitions asking them to reverse their long-standing, principled policy. . . . Fourth, there is prayer. We should never confuse prayer as a substitute for human action. But, neither should we treat human action as if it were equal in effect to prayer. At the end of the day, the action steps we take can only do so much. Apart from the wooing influence of the Holy Spirit, the human heart remains stone cold to His purposes. Intercessory prayer is more than a quick rush of words in the midst of our busy schedules; it is a focused time of intense beseeching before the Father. Let us pray like never before!”

Other news:

  • The Chicago home where the late President Ronald Reagan grew up is slated to be demolished and potentially turned into a parking lot for President Obama’s Library, it was revealed Thursday, reports The home, at 832 E. 57th Street, was where Reagan survived a near-fatal bout of pneumonia in 1915 and he has written fondly of playing in the Hyde Park neighborhood with his brother and others. But the University of Chicago has recently purchased the apartment building and they have announced plans to raze it and make it a parking lot. Some have said that the liberal Chicago establishment does not want a reminder that Reagan, a conservative icon, once lived in the city. Its current mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, was the White House chief of staff during Obama’s first term.
  • A Chinese company will take charge of sensitive military and battery technology following the Treasury Department’s decision on Tuesday to permit the sale of a U.S. company that was bankrolled with tax dollars to the Shanghai-based Wanxiang firm, reports The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the $256 million sale of A123 Systems’ operation, despite warnings from military insiders and lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the sale presents a danger to national security. A123 Systems, which went bankrupt despite the Obama administration’s $249 million in green energy funding to produce advanced lithium ion batteries, controls 91 patents for the sensitive technology. “The approved sale marks yet another step in the coordinated strategy by foreign countries to acquire leading U.S. companies who are researching, developing and producing critical technologies,” said Dean Popps, co-chairman of the Strategic Materials Advisory Council. “CFIUS itself has recognized this strategy but continues to fail to do anything to prevent it.” The committee has not made public its rationale for the decision. The decision signals a reversal from President Barack Obama’s inaugural day pledge not to “cede to other nations’ critical energy technology,” Popps said. “Far from protecting America’s lead, as the president promised on the west front of the Capitol, his administration has just allowed China to leapfrog the world in advanced batteries at the expense of American taxpayers,” Popps said. The cutting edge technology is the preferred tool used in satellite systems; military vehicles, the power grid and telecommunication systems and can withstand high heat and extremely cold temperatures. The deal was also questioned by Capitol Hill lawmakers who warned the acquisition presents considerable risks, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced legislation requiring safeguards on future decisions by the committee. Battery maker A123 is one of 36 green companies that were awarded federal dollars from the Energy Department but are now facing bankruptcy or are laying off workers, including Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, Beacon Power, SunPower, and SpectraWatt.
  • A group of conservatives is launching their own social networking site after enduring what they call years of censorship and liberal bullying on Facebook, reports The Tea Party Community is expected to officially launch on Saturday, but the social networking site for conservatives has already drawn nearly 50,000 members. “It’s a new home for conservatives and the Tea Party movement in America,” said cofounder Ken Crow. “It’s a social community just for them.” Crow partnered with Tim Selaty Sr. and Jr. to launch the new site last November, a “safe haven for the conservative movement where we can share ideas and thoughts and express ourselves without fear of retribution.”
  • At stake in two cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court is the “very existence” of America, according to attorneys who have filed briefs in support of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the California state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. “The natural family is fundamental to our very existence,” Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said as his organization filed friend-of-the-court briefs, reports WorldNetDaily. “Thriving societies need healthy children who grow up into responsible citizens,” he said. “Healthy children require committed parents who will sacrifice their own desires for the well-being of their children. This is all created within the context of natural marriage between one man and one woman.” His organization filed two briefs in U.S. v. Windsor, which challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act. That law says that for federal purposes, only marriage between one man and one woman is recognized. In February 2011, President Obama instructed his Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in court. The other case is Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges California’s decision by voters to define in their state Constitution marriage as a relationship only between one man and one woman. The decision to overrule the voters’ marriage definition in California came from U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who retired shortly after the case and became open about his own homosexuality. “We are at a pivotal point in history,” Staver said. “Nothing will define the future of America more than the court’s decision on marriage.”
  • Is your workplace getting shot up by a crazed gunman? No problem—just grab a pair of scissors and fight back! That’s some of the helpful advice in a new instructional video from the Department of Homeland Security that was posted on the agency’s website just a month after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, reports “If you are caught out in the open and cannot conceal yourself or take cover, you might consider trying to overpower the shooter with whatever means are available,” says the narrator in the video, which shows an office worker pulling scissors out of a desk drawer. The video, titled “Options for Consideration,” also advises that people who get caught in an “active shooter” situation should run away, hide under a desk, or take cover out of the line of fire.
  • As former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) faces his long-anticipated confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee for the position of Secretary of Defense, the hearing will not only be an examination of Hagel’s qualifications and views, but will test whether the Senate’s “advice and consent” process is a serious filter for potential Cabinet nominees, or merely a rubber stamp and a forum for political grandstanding, reports “The Senate’s recent performances have not inspired much confidence. Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put on a dramatic yet thoroughly evasive performance during a hearing on the Benghazi attack last week. Her successor, John Kerry, faced few tough questions about his questionable record on foreign policy issues. Senators used the allotted time to offer their own views but wasted an opportunity to question his. Democrats in particular have shown little inclination to question any of the president’s nominees, and made a show of their uniformly effusive praise for Clinton. The partisan divide created around President Obama is evidently so polarizing that Democrats are more concerned about falling in line than they are about defending the legislative body to which they were elected, which has traditionally shown far more independence.”
  • The Food and Drug Administration has officially decided that it will not take any regulatory action over a vending machine at a Pennsylvania university that sells the morning-after pill to students on campus, reports Shippensburg University, a publicly funded college in south-central Pennsylvania, installed the vending machine in the student health center three years ago. The machine charges $25 for the pill and also sells condoms, decongestants, and pregnancy tests. In a statement by FDA spokeswoman Erica Jefferson, the agency looked at “publicly available information about the Shippensburg University vending program, spoke with university and campus health officials, and decided no action was necessary.” The machine was installed after a student survey found that a whopping 85 percent of students felt that Plan B should be sold on campus and endorsed by the student government. “I think it’s great that the school is giving us this option,” then-junior Chelsea Wehking said about the machine last year. “I’ve heard some kids say they’d be too embarrassed” to go into town to buy it. The population of the town of Shippensburg, which is located about 45 miles southwest of Harrisburg, is smaller than that of the on-campus student body.
  • Archaeologists have discovered a 2,750-year-old temple along with a cache of sacred artifacts, providing rare insight into religious practices at the time, the Israeli Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday and reported by The temple was uncovered west of Jerusalem, at the Tel Motza archaeological site, in preparation for work on Highway 1. Among the finds are pottery figurines, fragments of chalices, and decorated pedestals, which indicate the site was the stomping ground of a ritual cult. “The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple,” said excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz in a statement. “The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time.” The surrounding region has been a key archaeological site for the past two decades after the discovery of numerous buildings including a storehouse, which archaeologists believe was run by high-ranking officials at the time for Jerusalem’s grain supplies. The Biblical settlement “Mozah” is mentioned in the Book of Joshua, described as a town in the tribal lands of Benjamin bordering on Judaea (Joshua 18:26).