After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays from membership or leadership positions, ruling out any changes despite relentless protest campaigns by some critics, reports onenewsnow.com. An 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts,” the organization’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, told AP. Family groups are pleased with the decision, reports onenewsnow.com. Rob Schwarzwalder, senior vice president at the Family Research Council, believes allowing homosexuals would fundamentally change the character of the organization. “More than that, a large proportion, if not the majority of Scout troops, are chartered by Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant and Mormon churches, all of which teach that homosexuality is incompatible with God’s plan,” he notes. “As a result, many of those churches, if not virtually all of them, would disenfranchise the Scout troops in their facilities.” Schwarzwalder notes that homosexual activists and others have been placing tremendous pressure on the BSA to change its policy, but the group has decided not to give in to those requests. “They deserve a major pat on the back,” the FRC spokesman asserts. “They have defied the winds of political correctness and have said ‘no’ to a culture that wants us to accept as normative a pattern of sexual behavior which clearly violates God’s intended design for men and women.” Schwarzwalder further believes that the organization deserves the praise of every American concerned about the young men who will eventually lead the country. Concerned Women for America’s president Penny Nance says her group “strongly supports the rights of the Boy Scouts of America to set policy for their own organization. They’ve made the determination that it’s best for their organization and for the kids involved to exclude homosexual leaders, and we believe they have both the legal right and the moral right to make that decision,” she comments. Nance contends that the children come first, and the Boy Scouts has the right to protect their best interests. So she advises the Girl Scouts to take note. “They have become much more politicized, much more liberal,” the CWA president laments about the Girl Scouts. “For that reason, many members of Concerned Women for America have made the decision to withdraw their young girls from this program. And I think it’s a shame. I’m a former Girl Scout, and I wish the Girl Scouts of America would learn from the Boy Scouts of America.” American Heritage Girls is an alternative organization for girls that is growing rapidly, while the Girl Scouts continues to lose membership.
- An Arizona pastor who is currently imprisoned for hosting regular Bible studies at his home may have to serve up to three years for violating his probation. Michael Salman, an ordained pastor of Church of God in Christ and the founder of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Phoenix, appeared in court Monday on charges that he violated his probation by continuing to hold Bible studies on his 4.6 acre property with more than 12 people, and for failing to pay over $12,000 in fines. The Phoenix Municipal Court had earlier ruled that Salman was not to have more than 12 people at his home until he met the city’s building codes, fire codes, and other safety codes. “He was found guilty of violating that [12 people limit] today. So in two to four weeks supposedly the court will decide what they are going to do in terms of his violation,” said John Whitehead, Salman’s attorney and founding president of the legal group The Rutherford Institute, to The Christian Post after the Monday court hearing. “The prosecutor is arguing for more jail time.” Whitehead noted that 15 to 20 people were meeting in Salman’s home for Bible study after the court’s order of a 12-persons limit. “[They brought him to court] to see if they are going to extend the 60 days in jail,” he said. “He is on three year probation, which means that he could get up to three years in jail.” Salman, who is a father of six, has been hosting Bible studies on his property for the past seven years. The city of Phoenix began interacting with Salman about zoning concerns starting in 2006, when the Zoning Administrator informed him that his property was analogous to a church and therefore he should adjust his home to comply with the Zoning Ordinance. According to the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office, the city has repeatedly asked Salman to comply with the safety codes and “he chose to ignore these requests for voluntary compliance prior to the commencement of any proceedings.”
- A restaurant in Pennsylvania has received support from people across the country and even globally after an atheist filed a discrimination complaint against the institution. Atheist activist John Wolff filed a complaint against Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia, alleging that the restaurant’s coupon special where customers can get 10 percent off their order if they bring in a church bulletin on Sundays is discriminatory. Sharon Prudhomme, co-owner of Lost Cajun, told The Christian Post that since the controversy reached the public, her restaurant has received a great deal of support. “We’ve been bombarded with emails from all over the country and world. Honduras, Australia, London, etc.,” said Prudhomme. Meanwhile, Baptist Press reports that Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, says, “We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.” Cathy leads a business with 1,608 restaurants that had sales of more than $4 billion dollars last year. They sell chicken and train employees to focus on values rooted in the Bible. Also, the chain is closed on Sundays. “We’ve always put in our lease that we will be closed on Sundays,” Cathy said. “We’ve had a track record that we were generating more business in six days than the other tenants were generating in seven [days].”
- The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers is offering “alternatives to church” programs and meetings during summer training at U.S. military academies in an attempt to gain official recognition for similar secular programs during the school year. “This is recognition of nontheists that we should expect from the Academies in the future. It is a credit to the senior cadets and local volunteers that this has happened, and it is encouraging and appropriate that the military leaders have recognized the atheists in their ranks after not having done so for so many decades,” MAAF president Jason Torpy wrote in the group’s blog, “Atheists in Foxholes News.” Although cadets and midshipmen have the opportunity to meet in humanist and secular alternative programs during summer training as do faith groups, Torpy questions whether the academies will give “equal support to atheists, humanists, and other nontheists” during the academic year. The MAAF has been attempting to gain official status within the U.S. military for atheist and humanist groups for several years by saying there is a religious diversity problem. Chaplain (Col.) Ron Crews, executive director for the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said the problem with groups such as Torpy’s organization is that they want to have chaplains with no religious affiliation. “People of no faith, or those who hold humanist views have constitutional rights as well as believers,” Crews told The Christian Post. “It is fine that they can meet and have their ‘non-worship’ events. However, these same groups are also asking to have ‘chaplains’ from their non-faith perspectives to be allowed on active duty. I believe this is inconsistent with what chaplains are about. The military can provide counselors to meet these needs. The very purpose of chaplains is to provide for the spiritual needs of those they serve. One cannot provide for spiritual needs without acknowledging there is a spiritual dimension.”
- When the mayor of Anaheim, Calif., bangs the gavel to start City Council meetings from now on, the wall of the council chambers behind him will include the motto “In God We Trust” over the city seal, reports ocegister.com. Anaheim joins a growing list of Orange County cities that have chosen to prominently display the words “In God We Trust.” Sixteen cities, from San Clemente to Buena Park, have added those words to their chambers in recent years. The phrase has been the national motto since 1956 and was reaffirmed in 2011 by Congress, which encouraged officials to include the phrase inside public schools and government buildings. The Anaheim City Council unanimously approved the idea in May, despite mild opposition from atheists who said they would feel alienated from city government. Nationally, some have argued against the movement to add the phrase, saying that it’s a violation of church and state. “It is a matter of patriotism,” Councilwoman Gail Eastman, who suggested the idea, said when the idea was approved. “It is on our currency. . . . It’s part of what America means to us.”
- Christian ministry leader Dawn Martinez was told she could no longer hold the twice-a-week Bible studies she has taught for homeless people for the last two years inside a McDonald’s in Camden, N.J. A night manager at the fast food restaurant told her last week that a customer had filed a complaint. Martinez wonders if it could have been because of the topic briefly discussed at one point last Monday—the Muslim faith. The 33-year-old, who began the ministry to transients and drug addicts two years ago, describes the Bible study group’s last meeting on Monday. “It was a very powerful night. We had one woman join our prayer circle at the table and she was weeping and crying, but that was nothing unusual for our meetings,” Martinez told The Christian Post. “I gave the Bible study. We talked about Isaac and Ishmael. I began to give the history on the descendants of Ishmael and the differences between the Christian and the Muslim faiths because the Muslim faith believes the descendants of Ishmael are the chosen people. It was real brief and nothing unusual happened. We had the Bible study. We prayed and we left.” On Wednesday, Martinez was told the bad news by the manager right as the small group was about to sit down at the table.
- Fifty members of a northern Nigerian church were burned to death in their pastor’s house, reports WorldNetDaily. The attack by armed gunmen was only the first in a 12-village spree of violence that left over 100 dead in northern Nigeria’s Plateau State, a region that had previously been outside Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram’s operational area and is the largely Muslim Fulani tribesmen’s homeland. Yet Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks and threatened even more violence. Open Doors USA spokesman Jerry Dykstra says the recent wave of attacks is rapidly turning Nigeria into a deadly religious battlefield, where Boko Haram is declaring Christians must convert . . . or die. “Nigeria is truly becoming the new killing field for Christians. Hundreds of Christians have already been brutally murdered—including women and children—by the Boko Haram,” Dykstra said. “The Boko Haram earlier this week said that all Christians need to turn to Islam or ‘they would never know peace again.’ Their goal is make all of Nigeria a country run and dominated by Shariah law.” Church of Christ of Nigeria officials report that all of their denomination’s church buildings were burned to the ground in the 12-town rampage.
- After reaching an agreement to send more than $1 million over three years to a Planned Parenthood in Tennessee, the Obama administration has awarded $3.1 million in federal funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates in New Jersey, reports lifenews.com. The grant announcement was made Tuesday by Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Robert Menendez, (D-N.J.), two pro-abortion Democrats in the U.S. Senate who are longtime allies of Planned Parenthood. The funding comes through the Department of Health and Human Services to Planned Parenthood and other agencies. The Obama administration grant to the abortion company also comes after Gov. Chris Christie again vetoed state taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business. The Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life organization, criticized the Obama Administration for awarding the money to the abortion business. “The President’s loyalty to Planned Parenthood—the nation’s largest abortion business and his top political ally—knows no limits,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “For the second time in this month alone, the Obama Administration has announced it will grant taxpayer funding to local Planned Parenthood affiliates and their allies despite action taken by state and local leaders to get taxpayers out of the abortion business.”
- A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by attorneys general of several states against the Obama HHS mandate that requires religious employers to pay for or refer women for abortion-causing drugs and birth control in violation of their religious liberties, reports lifenews.com. U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom of Lincoln, Neb., dismissed the case the state attorney general there filed with several other colleagues from across the nation. He said the states did not have standing in court to bring the lawsuit against the Obamacare HHS mandate. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning’s office brought the lawsuit along with attorneys general of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. Catholic Social Services, Pius X High School, and the Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America joined the Nebraska case against the mandate. The lawsuit alleged that the mandate violates the First Amendment rights of groups that object to the requirement to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions. The lawsuit also alleges the “practical effect” of the mandate “will force religious employers to drop health insurance coverage,” in order to avoid violating their religious beliefs. “Obamacare’s latest mandate tramples the First Amendment’s freedom of religion and compels people of faith to act contrary to their convictions,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a news release. “The very first amendment to our Constitution was intended to protect against this sort of government intrusion into our religious convictions.”
- Last Thursday, the Obama Administration quietly issued new bureaucratic rules that overturned the popular welfare reform law of 1996. This was an illegal move, and it completely undoes years of progress that helped millions of Americans, reports heritage.org. The 1996 reform replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children program with a new program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. At the core of the TANF program were new federal work standards that required able-bodied welfare recipients to work, prepare for work, or at least look for work as a condition for receiving aid. Welfare reform turned “welfare” into “workfare.” Under the old, pre-reform AFDC program, welfare was a one-way handout: government mailed checks to recipients who did nothing in return. Reform changed that. The new TANF program was based on fairness and reciprocal responsibility: taxpayers continued to provide aid, but beneficiaries were required, in exchange, to engage in constructive behavior to increase self-sufficiency and reduce dependence.
- Russell and Lauryn Mark are Olympic shooters from Australia. They are also married. As they head to London for the Summer Olympic games, they have been told that they cannot room together in Olympic Village, while other homosexual couples are allowed to, reports freedomoutpost.com. “The stupid part of this, which I have argued to them, is that there are tons of gay couples on the Olympic team who will be rooming together, so we are being discriminated against because we are heterosexual.” Russel Mark said. “Every couple, whether they are married or de facto should have the AOC trying to bend over backwards to accommodate their needs.”
- The Home School Legal Defense Association has been urging supporters to call their U.S. senators and ask them to oppose the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This treaty, now being fast-tracked in the Senate, “would undermine U.S. sovereignty and erode parental rights. Many other advocates of liberty have joined us in this battle, including Patriot Voices Chairman and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. He and his wife Karen Santorum have a special interest in preserving the rights of parents to raise and care for disabled children.” Rick and Karen Santorum said, “The ultimate responsibility of all parents is to care for your child, a responsibility that only takes on added weight when your child has special needs. As parents of a beautiful, special girl, we know first-hand the blessings of loving our Bella. This is precisely why we at Patriot Voices are urging the U.S. Senate to vote against ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD would usurp the rights and powers of parents here in the United States to do what is best for their special needs child by placing the law of the UN above the rights of the parents. It is the job of our elected representatives to preserve these rights, not hand them off to unaccountable international bureaucrats.”
- A Bulgarian family has been afforded relief from aggressive social services investigators who had attempted to bring criminal charges against them simply over their choice to homeschool their children, reports the Home School Legal Defense Association. A police investigation of the family who had withdrawn their 13-year-old son from the local public school due to bullying problems reported no evidence of neglect. The local prosecutor’s office agreed with the police findings and refused to initiate criminal proceedings in spite of requests by the CPS unit that the parents be prosecuted. The family’s attorney, Viktor Kostov, thanked HSLDA and its members and friends for sending letters and emails to the Bulgarian officials involved in the case. Kostov is affiliated with the Alliance Defending Freedom. “The wide publicity, both in Bulgaria and abroad, definitely helped the authorities take this case into careful consideration,” explains attorney Kostov. “Families who withdraw their children from the public school system often face persecution from government authorities. International attention is needed so that the authorities know their actions do not go unnoticed.” Yavor Kostov and his family added their heartfelt gratitude to all who wrote in support of their choice to homeschool their child.
- Is the severe drought also drying up President Obama’s reelection chances? Weather maps are ablaze with triple digit readings and sweltering heat, but it’s the dire warnings for farmers caught in wilting drought conditions that could spell bad news for President Obama’s reelection bid, says Patrik Jonsson in The Christian Science Monitor. “[With] the drought impact on the food sector, we’re going to have an inflation issue here, and that will put a damper on consumer confidence and will have a major impact on the election,” Michael Walden, consumer economics expert at North Carolina State told CSM. With approximately two-thirds of the nation affected by serious drought conditions, officials are keeping a close eye on crops and livestock figures and are putting out some harsh numbers. Nearly 38 percent of the U.S. corn crop is in poor condition. Soybeans aren’t fairing much better. And some ranchers are reportedly choosing to sell off livestock early as fields dry up and feed prices escalate. “Drought conditions don’t look like they’ll abate anytime soon, which will translate into higher consumer costs for everything from cereal to soda to juicy hamburgers.”