The Boy Scouts of America, one of the last truly great American institutions, which for 100 years has prepared tens of millions of boys for responsible manhood, is reportedly on the verge of changing its policy on homosexuals, reports WordNetDaily. The WND reports said, “Considering that the United States Supreme Court has already sided with the Boy Scouts on this issue, and that a recent Gallup Poll shows most Americans side with the Scouts’ current policy, and that just six months ago BSA national spokesman Deron Smith affirmed the organization’s moral policy excluding homosexuals ‘is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts,’ this current development illustrates—if nothing else—the brutal effectiveness of the relentless intimidation and economic pressure brought to bear on the Boy Scouts by gay rights activists and cultural extremists. Indeed, yesterday Smith did a complete 180 in disclosing in a press statement that BSA is now discussing ending the organization’s decades-long moral standard and, instead, deferring to the local chartering organizations to decide what their own membership standards will be—‘consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.’ ‘The policy change under discussion,’ Smith explained, ‘would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver scouting to determine how to address this issue.’ In other words, the BSA would abandon its prohibition on homosexuals and every local Boy Scout troop or Cub Scout pack could do whatever it wanted. As one might expect, traditionally minded Americans are alarmed. They warn this change would spell the end of the Boy Scouts as they have always known it—a quintessentially American, moral and God-based private organization, as exemplified in the Scout Oath ‘to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.’ Family Research Council President Tony Perkins pinpointed the main reason for the BSA’s change of thinking—namely, the attacks on their funding sources by activist homosexuals. Said Perkins: ‘The Boy Scouts of America board would be making a serious mistake to bow to the strong-arm tactics of LGBT activists and open the organization to homosexuality. What has changed in terms of the Boy Scouts’ concern for the well-being of the boys under their care? Or is this not about the well-being of the Scouts, but the funding for the organization?'”
- A Pentecostal woman in Texas has won a $25,000 settlement against fast-food chain Burger King after she was fired for wearing a skirt to work in August 2010 and refusing to change her clothes, reports The Christian Post. “For 2013 and 2014, defendant agrees to conduct an annual training session for all district managers and general managers for defendant’s Texas Burger King restaurants, advising them of the requirements and prohibitions of the federal anti-discrimination laws with a special emphasis on religious discrimination,” the nine-page consent decree shared by Courthouse News Service reads. “The training will also inform these individuals of the necessity of attempting to accommodate the religious beliefs of applicants and employees.” Burger King will now have to pay $25,000 to Ashanti McShan, who was 17 years of age when she was let go by the fast food restaurant for wanting to wear a skirt to work for religious reasons. Five thousand dollars of that money will be paid for back wages, while another $20,000 will be paid for mental anguish and non-wage damages. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the federal complaint on behalf of McShan, noted that some Pentecostal Christians believe the Bible teaches that women should wear only skirts and dresses, which goes against Burger King’s dress code.
- Sunday’s action by an Iranian court convicting and sentencing American Pastor Saeed Abedini for his Christian faith is a travesty that sadly underscores Iran’s brazen violation of international law and a tragic reminder that Iran is one of the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom, says The American Center for Law and Justice, which focuses on constitutional and human rights law. In an unexpected development in Iran today and without family present, Judge Pir-Abassi of Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Court—known as the “hanging judge”—verbally convicted and sentenced Pastor Saeed to eight years in prison for “threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches.” “This is a real travesty—a mockery of justice,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, who represents Pastor Saeed’s wife and children living in the U.S. “From the very beginning, Iranian authorities have lied about all aspects of this case, even releasing rumors of his expected release. Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights. We call on the citizens of the world to rise up in protest. We call on governments around the world to stand and defend Pastor Saeed.” Pastor Saeed and his attorney were permitted to attend just one day of his trial, which began Jan. 21. They were barred from attending and participating in further proceedings. During his imprisonment Pastor Saeed has been beaten and tortured, raising serious concerns about his medical condition. Pastor Saeed’s conviction and sentence in the Iranian Revolutionary Court had to be approved at the very top—the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had to sign off. A statement from Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, came after learning about the court’s action: “The promise of his release was a lie,” said Naghmeh. “We should not trust the empty words or promises put out by the Iranian government. These false hopes amount to psychological torture. You don’t want to trust them, but they build a glimmer of hope before the crushing blow. With today’s development I am devastated for my husband and my family. We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil.” Sekulow added, “Here’s the troubling reality: we have a U.S. citizen, who has been beaten and tortured since his imprisonment last fall, is now facing eight years in Evin Prison, one of the most brutal prisons in Iran. A harsh sentence in a notorious prison—likely facing life-threatening torture and abuse at the hands of the Iranian regime. Simply because of his Christian faith.”
- A federal judge has handed the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List a major free-speech victory in a two-year battle with a former congressman who alleged the organization cost him his job and “loss of livelihood” when it educated constituents on his voting record, reports WorldNetDaily. “While we’re pleased with the outcome, this was a protracted legal battle that was taxing on our resources and should never have happened in a country that enshrines free speech,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List. “The blatant disregard for the First Amendment and the constitutional right of people to speak out against the actions of those elected to represent them is unacceptable.” Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus was defeated in his 2010 re-election campaign by U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot. It was during the campaign that the Democratic Party even pulled its financial support for television ads for Driehaus when he fell behind. After his loss, Driehaus first filed a criminal complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission under a statute that carried the possibility of a jail time. He later decided to pursue a defamation claim. But U.S. District Judge Timothy Black dismissed his claims. “The concomitant principles of free speech and truth collide most violently in the arena of political speech. During the recently passed national elections, citizens were bombarded with political advertisements that the targets of which daily denounced as lies. Who then shall be the arbiter of political truth? Ultimately, in a free society, the truth of political back and forth must be adjudicated in the ‘marketplace of ideas,’” the judge wrote.
- A California legal group is filing suit against a shopping mall for threatening a Christian who shared his faith with other shoppers. The lawsuit, filed by the Pacific Justice Institute, alleges that management and officers at the Visalia Mall threatened and harassed John Vadnais, a church elder, for sharing his faith. It also claims that they called the police out to intimidate him. PJI president Brad Dacus told OneNewsNow Vadnais was told he could not talk to strangers about religion. “No one should be threatened with arrest for peacefully communicating their beliefs to willing listeners,” he asserted. “In California, large shopping malls are deemed the equivalent of public forums. It is both intolerant and illegal for the Visalia Mall to suppress speech just because it’s religious.” Vadnais often visited the mall to shop and eat, and he shared his faith with other shoppers. PJI won a similar suit in 2010 involving a youth pastor who was arrested for sharing his faith with Roseville Gallaria shoppers who were willing to listen.
- The U.S. isn’t the only nation mourning decades of millions of unborn babies’ deaths. While some may celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Canada’s Supreme Court decision to strike down Canada’s existing abortion law, pro-life groups like LifeCanada are in mourning. “For 25 years, the abortion debate has been couched in the language of women’s rights—ignoring the tragic reality that over 2.2 million unborn children have been aborted in Canada since the 1988 Morgentaler decision,” the group says. But LifeCanada has hope. “With the advance of medical technology, including 3D and 4D ultrasound, and widespread access to information via social media and the Internet, it is impossible to hide the truth that abortion takes the life of a vulnerable human being,” it told LifeNews. “And the results are beginning to show. Since 2002, Environics polls, commissioned by LifeCanada, have consistently found that most Canadians want some legal restrictions on abortion. Some 72% of Canadians responding to the latest 2011 poll said they wanted legal restrictions on abortion. The poll further found that 92% of Canadians want sex selection abortions to be made illegal.” Just a few days ago in the United States, which has at least some state restrictions on abortion, almost half a million people—mostly teenagers—gathered on Capitol Hill to call on their government to make abortion illegal. Canada should follow suit, the pro-life organization said. The Canadian National March for Life in 2012 saw its largest crowd yet, with over 22,000 participants advocating for a law restricting abortion in Canada.
- Pro-abortion activists have destroyed a memorial of crosses set up in a field to remember the 55 million unborn children who have been killed in abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973. On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Rachel’s Park Memorial was desecrated, said an e-mail from Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas of Elijah Ministries to LifeNews. Thomas, who is the founder and director of the memorial, said a report was filed with the Waco Police Department at 11:09 a.m. by an employee of a neighboring business. The park has suffered regular desecration, but this attack was, by far, the most devastating, he said. The spreading display of 4,000 white crosses reinforced with steel rebar was extensively damaged, as was the picket fence enclosing the memorial park.
- Mormons do better in youth ministry than evangelicals, according to Greg Stier of The Christian Post. Noted Stier, “Let’s face it. Most of us look at the clean cut Mormon missionaries that peddle the streets of our city and knock on the doors of our houses as somewhat out of date. Although they are kind and well spoken young men, when they knock on our doors we either don’t answer or tell them we are already Christians who reject Mormonism and bid them good day. We think to ourselves how ‘behind the times’ these young people are forced to be when they are required to do door-to-door evangelism for their religion. We reflect on how grateful we are that we have the truth once and for all delivered to the saints. We may even think about how much more superior our youth ministry strategies are compared to theirs. Or are they? Mormons expect a lot out of their teenagers. We don’t. Mormons ordain their young men into the ministry at the age of twelve. We don’t. Mormons require their teens to attend seminary every day of high school. We don’t. Mormons ask for two years in the field of every graduating senior. We don’t. Maybe that’s why we don’t meet a lot of ex-Mormons, while there are hundreds of thousands of former church attendees in the true church of Jesus Christ (of everyday saints) who flee the church after graduating from high school. Maybe that’s why Mormons give more, work harder and are exploding as a religion. In 1985 there were 4.5 million Mormons, and now there are over 12 million. When many of our teens graduate from high school, they grab their books and a beer and go off to the college dorm (A.K.A. ‘The Party Zone’). When Mormon teens graduate from high school they grab a backpack and a bike pump and go off on a mission. They know what they believe and why they believe it.”
- Worldwide Marriage Encounter, the original faith-based marriage enrichment program in the United States, announced that the national winners of the 2013 Longest Married Couple Project are John and Ann Betar of Fairfield, Conn., reports christiannewswire.com. They have been married 80 years as of Nov. 25, 2012. Hundreds of nominations were received for this year’s project. The winners from individual states will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 31. “It is truly an honor and a privilege to recognize John and Ann Betar for their commitment to marriage,” said Ron and Judy Pekny, the United States Ecclesial Team for WWME. “We are looking forward to personally recognizing them on Feb. 9th in their hometown of Fairfield,” they added.
- When Jerry B. Jenkins wrote his first book, the publisher accepted it, even though Jenkins wasn’t well known. Now 180 books later, the best-selling author has seen radical changes in traditional publishing. “In my day, publishers took chances on beginners,” he says. “Nowadays, many reject good writers without platforms.” Writer of the best-selling Left Behind series (Tyndale) and owner of the Christian Writers Guild, Jenkins is on record against self-publishing; however, he’s recently had a change of heart. To help aspiring writers achieve their publishing dreams, Jenkins is launching Christian Writers Guild Publishing, reports christiannewswire.com. He says it will be different from other custom publishing houses in that it features “Published,” a six-month course mentored by an experienced author. When students with works-in-progress complete the course, CWGP will publish their books—providing a copy editor, proofreader, cover and type designer, eBook formatter, printer, and a free package of promotion, marketing, and social media materials, everything the writer needs for a successful book launch. “This is different from self-publishing,” Jenkins says. “It’s mentored, coached, and educated publishing. We come alongside through this course and surround them with seasoned industry professionals.” “I’ve criticized self-publishing because so many end up with shlocky covers, typos, and poor production quality. CWG Publishing is committed to providing writers with a valuable education and a great publishing experience.”
- Same-sex couples will be a part of the proposal for addressing immigration reform that President Obama is scheduled to unveil in Las Vegas, reports BuzzFeed. A Democratic source said, “Same-sex couples will be part of his proposal.” A second source confirmed that, unlike the Senate framework released Monday, same-sex bi-national couples—those with one American and one foreign partner—will be included in the White House principles. The decision by Obama seeks to remedy what advocates for same-sex couples view as one of the most searing inequalities under the existing federal limit on marriage to one man and one woman: LGBT American citizens simply have no way to confer citizenship on their romantic partners, something that is automatic—if not always simple—for straight couples. Under current law, such same-sex couples, even when married under state law, are not eligible for the green cards that opposite-sex couples can receive. Foreign partners of same-sex couples have in the past found their green card applications denied, often forcing couples to separate or move abroad.
- A new study of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York found that many of the protesters were highly educated and not nearly as down on their luck as they portrayed, reports nypost.com. A third of protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York lived in households earning more than $100,000 and more than two-thirds were employed professionals, according to the study from CUNY’s Joseph A. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. The study also showed the movement was mostly organized by experienced political operatives and nearly all of those involved—76 percent—were college educated. Of those, half had graduate degrees and among those with bachelor’s degrees, and 28 percent had attended elite universities. “Occupy Wall Street was not a spontaneous eruption but rather an action carefully planned by committed activists,” the study concluded.