A federal court on Friday stopped enforcement of the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate against Tyndale House Publishers, which filed a lawsuit against it. The Obama mandate has generated massive opposition from pro-life groups because it forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties. The Obama administration opposed the court’s order, arguing that Tyndale House Publishers isn’t religious enough for an exemption from the mandate. The decision applies only to the company and does not stop the Obama HHS mandate nationwide against other religious groups, businesses, hospitals, or educational institutions. Represented by attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, Tyndale House Publishers, based in Illinois, is the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media and directs 96.5 percent of its profits to religious nonprofit causes worldwide. The publisher specifically objects to covering abortifacients under the mandate. The court’s order is the third nationwide against the mandate and the second obtained by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys. “Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman, who argued before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Nov. 9. Bowman told LifeNews, “The court has done the right thing in halting the mandate while our lawsuit moves forward. For the government to say that a Bible publisher is not religious is startling. It demonstrates how clearly the Obama administration is willing to disregard the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom to achieve certain political purposes.”
- Churches are going to federal court to reclaim their freedom of speech after the city of Santa Monica, Calif., decided to end a nearly 60-year tradition of having Christian displays of the nativity in a public park due to an uproar caused by atheists’ anti-God signs, reports The Christian Post. “It’s a sad, sad commentary on the attitudes of the day that a nearly 60-year-old Christmas tradition is now having to hunt for a home, something like our Savior had to hunt for a place to be born because the world was not interested,” the Associated Press quoted Hunter Jameson, head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee, as saying. The committee, comprising churches that are behind the nativity display, is suing in federal court, claiming the city violated their freedom of speech by stopping the holiday tradition. A court hearing is scheduled for Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Behind the trouble in Santa Monica is a member of the American Atheists, Damon Vix, who applied for and was granted a booth in Palisades Park alongside the nativity display three years ago. He erected a sign quoting Thomas Jefferson: “Religions are all alike—founded on fables and mythologies.” Another sign read, “Happy Solstice.” Last Christmas season, there were 13 individuals that entered the race for the 21 spaces available at the park rather than the usual three. The sudden high demand for spots, especially by atheists recruited by Vix, prompted Santa Monica’s City Hall to implement a random lottery system to determine who would have access to the spots. This left the Nativity Committee with only two spaces on which they were able to put up only three of the usual 14 scenes. The atheists used half their spaces, displaying anti-God signs, most of which were vandalized. This led the city to effectively end the tradition that began in 1953. However, the Nativity Committee says in its lawsuit that atheists’ right to protest must not trump the Christians’ right to free speech. “If they want to hold an opposing viewpoint about the celebration of Christmas, they’re free to do that—but they can’t interfere with our right to engage in religious speech in a traditional public forum,” committee’s attorney William Becker was quoted as saying. “Our goal is to preserve the tradition in Santa Monica and to keep Christmas alive.” Deputy City Attorney Jeanette Schachtner, on the other hand, maintains that the city hasn’t banned churches from caroling in the park, handing out literature or staging a nativity play, and churches could set up a nativity on private land. The ban on the displays saves the city time and money while preserving the park’s aesthetics, she adds. The atheists’ move in Santa Monica marks a shift in their strategy. “In recent years, the tactic of many in the atheist community has been, if you can’t beat them, join them,” Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and director of the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Education Project in Washington, stated. “If these church groups insist that these public spaces are going to be dominated by a Christian message, we’ll just get in the game—and that changes everything.”
- A new movement is well under way that links Christian values and emerging investment opportunities, reports forbes.com. This time it isn’t retail investors who are participating but the more affluent “qualified” investors. They’re taking a new approach to their money, patiently allowing firms the time required to obtain their objectives. They aren’t ringing bells announcing these new opportunities, but slowly attracting wealthy Christian investors who want to earn solid returns, achieve social goods like providing jobs or clean water, while also seeing spiritual fruit. This patient capital movement has already attracted tens of millions of dollars. Investors are driven by the opportunity to match their faith with their finances. They expect to earn a return, but to see social impact (jobs created, children in school) and spiritual fruit (families seeking prayer from chaplains and churches built). The Acumen Fund, a non-sectarian group seeking social good, defines patient capital as “a debt or equity investment in an early-stage enterprise providing low-income consumers with access to healthcare, water, housing, alternative energy, or agricultural inputs.” The Christian funds also seek some kind of spiritual return on investments of less than $2.5 million.
- As the newly elected chief justice of the state Supreme Court of Alabama, Judge Roy Moore, who for some 10 years has run the Foundation for Moral Law, says he’s looking forward to educating judges, lawyers, and others on the constitutional foundation of America. That focuses on, in a phrase, the fact the rights of U.S. citizens come from God, and not Washington, and government needs to acknowledge that. “Without an understanding of God,” he told WorldNetDaily in a recent post-election interview, “you can’t understand the Constitution.” Moore was the judge who was removed from the same position he is now assuming 10 years ago for refusing a federal court’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building in Alabama. Moore has explained that he has no plans to bring the monument back, because the it became a distraction from the real issue: the acknowledgement of God as explained in the national and state constitutions. And he says there’s no possibility of true justice without that. He said he will be sworn in on the promise to uphold the Constitution of the United States as well as the Alabama Constitution. “The only way you can do that is acknowledge that morality and law does come from God,” he said. “The whole basis of the Constitution is the restraint of human power,” he said. He cited the state of the United States now, following the election, as an example of things gone wrong. “No president has the power to violate constitutional restraints of power,” he said. “[The members of the legislature] don’t, and neither does the Supreme Court.” Yet, he said, Barack Obama has violated its standard by bombing Libya, when the Constitution provides only Congress shall declare war. “The Constitution is the rule of law, and [my job is] to uphold is to uphold the rule of law,” he said. “I get criticized for my professions that God is the basis of all rights or liberties, and yet, the rule of law, being the Constitution, and its companion, the Declaration of Independence, organize the laws of our country on [the premise that] our rights come from God.” The government’s job, he said, is to secure and protect those rights. Further, the full Constitution needs to play an active role today, he said. “There is little regard for the Constitution in the courts today, even the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said.
- Islamic extremists from Somalia’s rebel Al-Shabaab militants on Friday beheaded a Christian convert in Somalia’s coastal city of Barawa, accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said. The extremists beheaded 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose after monitoring his movements for six months, Christian sources said. Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa, in Somalia’s Lower Shebelle Region, in December 2011 after spending time in Kenya, underground Christians in Somalia told Morning Star News. Kenya’s population is nearly 83 percent Christian, according to Operation World, while Somalia’s is close to 100 percent Muslim. A crowd assembled in the coastal city on Friday morning to watch the slaughter of Mose, the sources said.
- Despite the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church writing a pastoral letter to the members of the South Carolina diocese to stay, a majority of parishes voted to leave the denomination over its ordination of gay clergy and acceptance of same-sex unions, reports The Christian Post. The vote took place at a convention organized by the South Carolina diocese leadership at St. Philip’s Church in Charleston on Saturday, Reuters reported. It followed the U.S. Episcopal Church’s certification last month that South Carolina Bishop Mark J. Lawrence, who had criticized pro-gay positions of the denomination’s hierarchy, had abandoned the church’s doctrine, discipline and worship. “This has never been about who is welcome or not welcome in our church,” Lawrence was quoted as saying at the convention, attended by about 200 people. “It’s about what we shall tell them when they come.” It’s the fifth Episcopalian diocese in the country to leave the church’s national body, which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. “We preceded The Episcopal Church,” convention spokesman Bryan Hunter was quoted as saying. He recalled that the Diocese of South Carolina formed in 1785 and joined other early dioceses to form the U.S. Episcopal Church in 1789. “It’s similar to the Articles of Confederation. The states were sovereign states before they were in the United States.”
- The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico has voted to end its 139-year partnership in mission with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in response to the PC(USA)’s decision earlier to allow the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians, reports pres-outlook.com. That decision to sever the relationship came on a 116 to 22 vote of the Mexican church assembly in August. It likely will jeopardize the continuation of the work that 11 PC(USA) mission coworkers have been doing in Mexico—including significant work along the U.S.-Mexican border—as well as the future of short-term congregational mission trips to Mexico and more than two-dozen partnerships that PC(USA) presbyteries and synods have established in Mexico. The Mexican church, with close to two million members, held a special assembly specifically to discuss the ordination of women—voting overwhelmingly, by a margin of 158 to 14, to sustain its policy of not ordaining women. The assembly also voted 103 to 55 not to allow any sort of grace period for presbyteries that had, on their own, already begun ordaining women. That vote means that any presbytery which has already ordained women must immediately revoke those ordinations. Before the assembly began, there were rumblings of dissatisfaction with the PC(USA) and its decision earlier this year to approve Amendment 10-A, which removed from the denomination’s Book of Order a requirement that those being ordained practice fidelity if they are married or chastity if they are single. Presbyteries and sessions now will examine candidates for ordination or installation, with the standard being that a candidate’s “manner of life should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel in the church and in the world.” The new language also states that “governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”
- Pro-family groups are going on the offensive to stop an incoming barrage of internationalists’ treaties as voters approve ballot measures on “children’s rights,” reports onenewsnow.com. The results are in . . . and parents in Ireland voted for their own defeat—conceding that they are not fit to make decisions about raising their own children. They effectively handed over their parental rights to their own children and the government Saturday, as the final poll results show this week that 57 percent—versus 43 percent—of Irish voters believe that “children’s rights” should usurp their own when making crucial decisions on the upbringing of Irish youth. In another stride toward global governance, the United Nations brought Ireland under compliance with its mandate that allows for the state’s seizure of children via an amendment that voters approved into the Irish constitution. Only one-third of Irish voters showed up to cast their ballot on the measure, which was not only supported by every political party, but surprisingly by all children’s charities, as well. But pro-family groups in America are more than concerned that what goes down in Ireland doesn’t stay in Ireland. “The election results are going to require us to engage in both offensive and defensive tactics to preserve parental rights,” says Parentalrights.org president Michael P. Farris. “There is absolutely no doubt that the internationalists are going to push extremely hard for ratification of a whole series of treaties that will dramatically reorder the relationship between parents and children.” And Farris promises that he will not let America sit down and bow to the dictates of the government as parents blindly stand by to watch their parental rights stripped before their very eyes.
- The search for the longest married couple in Canada was announced Monday by James and Connie McNeill and Fr. John Juhl, the Canadian Ecclesial Team for Worldwide Marriage Encounter, the original faith-based marriage enrichment program, reports christiannewswire.com. “We are pleased that our marriage enrichment ministry can take this opportunity to celebrate husbands and wives that been married for many, many years,” said Mr. and Mrs. McNeill and Fr. Juhl. “In addition to recognizing the longest married couple in the country, we want to honour the longest married couple from each province and territory.” National winners will be recognized during the week of Valentine’s Day in 2013. This coincides with World Marriage Day, which is held on the second Sunday of February each year. This is the first year that the highly acclaimed project will be held in Canada. The project is entering its third year in the United States.
- The American Family Association is calling for a boycott of Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic, the three stores owned by San Francisco–based Gap Inc., over the company’s censorship of the word “Christmas.” For years, notes the AFA, the Gap companies have refused to use the word “Christmas” on their websites, in television commercials, newspaper ads, and in-store promotions, despite tens of thousands of consumer requests to recognize Christmas and in spite of repeated requests from AFA to do the same. Yet the company wants all the people who celebrate Christmas to do their shopping at their stores. In the past AFA has played a part in convincing other retailers to change their approach. But at Gap and Old Navy, it’s “Bah, Humbug!”
- Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday accused the White House of purposefully manipulating the “political narrative” of the terrorist attack in Benghazi to make President Obama look good two months before the election, reports newsmax.com. Graham, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, said U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, the official who first addressed the issue publicly, had no business speaking about it but was chosen because Rice was “politically compliant.” “Why would you choose someone who had nothing to do with Benghazi to tell us about Benghazi?” he asked. “That’s kind of odd. She was the most politically compliant person they could find. I don’t know what she knew, but I know that the story she told was misleading.” Graham said he believes the administration would—and did—mislead Americans on the issue of national security “to prevent him [Obama] from looking bad.” “I think it’s very odd that the storyline they chose omitted al-Qaida, which would help the president enormously, and I don’t buy it,” he said. “And I don’t, but the intel community did a great job. I like [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Mike Rogers and [California Sen.] Dianne Feinstein, but to say the intelligence community did a good job—what about the months before this attack?” Graham then launched a verbal assault on Obama for failing to heed multiple warnings by U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in the Sept. 11 assault, about the lack of security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya. “I blame the president more than anybody else,” he said. “Susan Rice is a bit player here. I blame the president for making this a death trap. I blame the president for not having assets available to help these people for eight hours.”