Florida Gov. Rick Scott has stepped into the fray, reports miamiherald.com, concerning a Florida Atlantic University professor, Deandre Poole, who told students in an intercultural communications class to write the word “Jesus” on a piece of paper, throw it on the floor, and stomp on it. Ryan Rotela, a junior at FAU’s Davie campus, was thrown out of class when he refused to participate. “Anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value. So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value,” Rotela told CBS12, a West Palm Beach television station. Scott has penned a letter to State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan demanding an investigation. “I am requesting a report of the incident, how it was handled and a statement of the university’s policies to ensure this type of ‘lesson’ will not occur again,” Scott wrote. FAU officials defended the professor last week, but Rotela told The Palm Beach Post that he and an attorney from the Texas-based Liberty Institute met with FAU Dean of Students Cory King at the school’s Boca Raton campus on Monday and received an apology and a pledge that the disciplinary charges against him would be dropped. In his letter, Scott made it clear he wants more than merely an apology. “Whether the student was reprimanded or whether an apology was given is in many ways inconsequential to the larger issue of a professor’s poor judgment,” Scott wrote. “The professor’s lesson was offensive, and even intolerant, to Christians and those of all faiths who deserve to be respected as Americans entitled to religious freedom.”
- Islamic hard-liners stormed a mosque in suburban Cairo, turning it into torture chamber for Christians who had been demonstrating against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in the latest case of violent persecution that experts fear will only get worse, Fox News reports. Such stories have become increasingly common as tensions between Egypt’s Muslims and Copts mount, but in the latest case, mosque officials corroborated much of the account and even filed a police report. Demonstrators, some of whom were Muslim, say they were taken from the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in suburban Cairo to a nearby mosque on Friday and tortured for hours by hard-line militia members. “They accompanied me to one of the mosques in the area and I discovered the mosque was being used to imprison demonstrators and torture them,” said Amir Ayad from a hospital bed, a Coptic who has been a vocal protester against the regime. Ayad said he was beaten for hours with sticks before being left for dead on a roadside. Amir’s brother, Ezzat Ayad, said he received an anonymous phone call at 3 a.m. Saturday, with the caller saying his brother had been found near death and had been taken to the ambulance. “He underwent radiation treatment that proved that he suffered a fracture in the bottom of his skull, a fracture in his left arm, a bleeding in the right eye, and birdshot injuries,” Ezzat Ayad said. The latest crackdown is further confirmation that the Muslim Brotherhood’s most hard-line elements are consolidating control in Egypt, according to Shaul Gabbay, a professor of international studies at the University of Denver. “It will only get worse,” said Gabbay. “This has been a longstanding conflict, but now that the Muslim Brotherhood is in power, it is moving forward to implement its ideology—which is that Christians are supposed to become Muslims. “There is no longer anything to hold them back,” he continued. “The floodgates are open.”
- With the governor’s signature on the ban Tuesday, North Dakota has become the first state to ban abortions based on genetic “defects” like Down Syndrome. When diagnosed before birth, such genetic abnormalities prompt couples to have abortions 90 percent of the time. The state legislature approved the measure, and Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed it. The measure would also ban abortion based on gender selection, an issue of increasing concern in the United States has people from nations like China and India migrate to the United States and bring their cultural preference for boys with them. Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest told LifeNews she is delighted Rep. Bette Grande championed the bill. The law is based on AUL-model legislation and makes North Dakota the fifth state to ban the sexist practice of ending a child’s life based on its sex. But importantly, North Dakota becomes the first state to end the practice of destroying unborn life based on potential genetic abnormalities. “A civil society does not discriminate against people—born and unborn—for their sex or for disability. We should be celebrating diversity, not destroying it,” she said. “Women in particular have been targeted for death in the womb, and we’ve also seen dramatic abortion rates for children with disabilities which put them at risk for extinction. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Rep. Bette Grande and the legislators in North Dakota have shown courageous humanity in passing this legislation.” “North Dakota House Bill (HB) 1305, sponsored by Rep. Grande, serves essential public interests by prohibiting both sex-selection abortion and abortion for genetic abnormalities,” she continued. “Sex-selection abortion is gender-based violence generally targeted toward females. Likewise, abortion performed solely because of genetic abnormalities is discriminatory and devalues the lives of the disabled.” Yoest said that while federal and state laws protect women and the disabled from discrimination, the unborn are not similarly protected. HB 1305 cures this deficiency in the law and ensures protection for unborn children who are targeted for death solely because of their sex or genetic abnormalities. The other states that ban sex-selective abortions are Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.
- Tim Tebow is no stranger to television cameras, but one movie producer is giving the New York Jets quarterback the opportunity to star in his next film. David Dginguerian, a producer of the 2012 film Crossroad, sent a letter to Tebow in which he praised the Christian quarterback for being a positive role model. “You have been a great idol for so many by your display of courage and strong faith that all things work together for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28),” wrote Dginguerian, according to a letter. He later added, “I would like to extend to you an invitation to star in my next Faith-Based Film. You are an inspiration to so many on the field and off, and I am certain that your passion will also come through in films.” A representative of WME, the company that handles Tebow’s public relations, told The Christian Post they currently have no comment about Dginguerian’s offer. Tebow has some known acting experience, though it is limited to television commercials. He filmed several commercials endorsing TiVo, the developer of the first digital video recorder system, in which he is shown playfully discussing the product with two children. He also pretended to tackle his own mother, Pam, in a pro-life ad from Focus on the Family that aired during Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. In his letter, Dginguerian says Crossroad is now licensed in Africa, Europe, Australia, Brazil, and elsewhere. The film, which is about a father who wrestles with his faith even as he seeks revenge on the man who killed his wife and child, has the message of Romans 8:28 as its theme.
- Minnesota, known for its thousands of pristine lakes, may soon become better known for its deplorable censorship of speech, according to a report in The Christian Post. Politically correct leftists are pushing a state “anti-bullying” law that will result in extreme censorship of all public school students and even some private school students if their schools receive any state money. The bill, summarized by Professor Volokh, goes so far as to prohibit even one word that “relates to” the religion of another person, and has a “detrimental effect” on their “social or emotional health.” “If two Christian students are discussing the morality of abortion, disagree on what the Bible says on the issue, and one of them argues that any true Christian can see that the Bible clearly teaches against abortion, the other may very well be offended, upset, and angered. Is this a detrimental effect on that student’s ’emotional health’? Probably so, and the student who made the statement would be subject to punishment. What about a Catholic school student who wears a button to school that states the Church’s position on marriage and sexuality? If the school gets any state money—even if it’s just to provide reduced lunches to underprivileged kids—that button is considered bullying and would have to be censored by the school. The breadth of this proposed law is staggering. It even applies to statements that don’t rise to the level of ‘harassment’—a legal standard used to make sure speech is protected. If this bill passes (and withstands a court challenge), the next step will be for Minnesota to start dictating what religious schools are teaching.” The report observes that this is already happening in Ontario, Canada, where a Jesuit school is being forced to change its Catholic religion course on ethics and morality to one government officials approve of. “Apparently, Catholic teaching on marriage and the family is considered hateful and intolerant. All Canadian Christians should be alarmed by this development. If the government can censor Catholic teaching on the family, it can censor any other religious teaching deemed offensive. And make no mistake, the Gospel is offensive. Christ said that we will be hated if we follow Him (Mark 13:13), and Paul warned that if the Gospel is not offending anyone, it’s being distorted (Gal. 5:11).” The Alliance Defending Freedom said it is doing everything in their power to make sure the anti-religion policies of “the Land of the Maple Tree don’t infect the Land of the Free. And even if they are attempting to spread across the border to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the Minnesota ‘anti-bullying’ law has a very slim chance of withstanding constitutional scrutiny in a court of law.”
- Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, has offered observations concerning the current debate at the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of two laws: the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. Passed and signed into law in 1996, DOMA has two main sections: (1) It gives states the option of not recognizing gay marriages from other states and (2) it defines marriage for federal purposes and federal benefits as being between a man and a woman. Only the second section of DOMA was in front of the court. But even though the court did not deal with the DOMA section that affirms states’ rights, it nevertheless could get to that issue with the Prop 8 case. Prop 8 is a constitutional amendment, adopted by California voters in 2008, that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. California is one of 30 states that define marriage within the state constitution in the traditional sense. Another 11 states define it that way via statute. Nine states recognize gay marriage. If the court strikes down both DOMA and Prop 8, then gay marriage could be legalized in all 50 states. But there are other possible outcomes, including the upholding of both as constitutional. Based on the oral arguments heard by the court, though, that type of sweeping victory for social conservatives seems unlikely. If the court arguments are any indication, it seems more likely that the court will overturn the DOMA section at issue while at the same time not even ruling on the constitutionality of Prop 8, thus keeping the issue—for now—a state matter. Predictions, though, can be tough, as proven in 2012 when most court-watchers thought the justices would overturn the historic health care law, only eventually to see the court uphold it. A ruling that skirts the constitutionality of Prop 8 would limit the lower court’s overturning of Prop 8 to California. Under one scenario, the court could rule that ProtectMarriage.com—the official sponsors of Prop 8—did not have “legal standing” to appeal the decision after Prop 8 was overturned by the federal district court. “Standing” became an issue when the governor and attorney general of California chose not to appeal the decision. Politico.com reported that under that scenario, the district court’s ruling “could end up being limited to only the couple of counties and state officials named as defendants in the lawsuit.” The court also could dismiss the petition as “improvidently granted”—that is, justices could say it should not have taken the case in the first place. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote, seemed to open the door for either scenario when he said there’s a “substantial question” on standing and in the next sentence said, “I just wonder if the case was properly granted.” A majority of the justices seemed to be in favor of punting on Prop 8’s constitutionality. Kennedy, as he often does, made comments friendly to both sides. Conservatives were heartened to hear him express concern about going into “uncharted waters” and to note that “we have five years of information” on the impact of gay marriage “to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more” on the impact of traditional marriage. But liberals pointed out that Kennedy also seemed concerned about the “legal injury” to the “40,000 children in California” who live with same-sex parents and want “their parents to have full recognition and full status.” But, as previously noted, Kennedy also implied that the court should not be considering Prop 8. The court’s liberal wing—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elana Kagan—all made comments friendly to gay marriage legalization, with Kagan rejecting the notion that traditional married laws can be tied to procreation. But all four justices also questioned whether the court should be hearing the Prop 8 case. And Sotomayor heartened social conservatives when she said in the DOMA arguments that “states control” marriage, although she said it in the context of the DOMA case, not Prop 8. Three of the four members of the court’s conservative wing—John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Samuel Alito—expressed concern about gay marriage legalization. Roberts said marriage, throughout history, “developed to serve purposes that, by their nature, didn’t include homosexual couples.” Conservative bloc member Clarence Thomas did not ask questions, as is his custom.
- A Christian radio station in the Central African Republic is off the air after a rebel coup in that beleaguered nation, reports Mission Network News. HCJB Global reports that on Monday, March 25, the radio station operated by their ministry partner, ICDI, in the Central African Republic was off the air as looters stole and damaged some of the radio equipment that had been moved to the ministry’s offices in the capital city of Bangui for safekeeping after the fighting began. Stephen Peacock, an HCJB Global machinist who was in CAR, departed the country just hours before the capital was overrun. “There was looting at the place we had stayed, and the radio station had been partly dismantled.” A generator and transmitter pieces were stolen. Other missionaries and the staff at ICDI were forced to abandon the compound as the conflict escalated. Peacock says he’s not sure why these items were taken. “A generator is useful. It looks like one of the reasons they take stuff is to sell it for scrap metal to get money, which is a real shame and totally wasteful. Some of the stuff they [can] use, but a transmitter they cannot use.” Looters just take whatever they can get their hands on. There were reports of shooting near some of ICDI’s other facilities. Looters also stole three of the ministry’s vehicles. At this point, the radio station is off the air. The transmitters remain at the downtown location, three computers and a mixing board were stolen, and it is unsafe for anyone to be out in public.
- A Massachusetts school principal has cancelled his school’s Honors Night in the belief that it would cause students who are not receiving an award to “feel self-conscious and disappointed in themselves,” reports newamerican.com. According to Principal David Fabrizio of Ipswich Middle School, Honors Night could be “devastating” to the students who worked hard, but did not earn good enough grades to receive an award. “The Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients’ families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade-point average,” Fabrizio penned in a letter to parents. Fabrizio asserted that he decided to cancel because academic success is often contingent upon support at home, which not all students are lucky enough to have. Predictably, many parents are angered by the principal’s decision. “It’s been a tradition in Ipswich, and you’re very proud as a parent to see your child, as well as some of the other children who made, really, some great efforts,” said one of the parents, Dave Morin. “I am mortified at the comments Mr. Fabrizio made,” Facebook user Patti Rairden wrote on Wednesday. “Accomplishments should be recognized. They encourage more strides toward excellence.” Another user, Joey Tiberio, wrote that it’s people like Fabrizio “that are killing this country.” “Maybe it would encourage other students to work harder,” Nancy H. Murphy DelSignore wrote, referring to keeping Honors Night. In response to criticism, Fabrizio defensively responded that he will include the honors ceremony in an end-of-the-year assembly where students will be recognized in front of the student body, rather than in a separate evening in front of families only.
- Hunters across the country are boycotting Colorado because of recent legislation meant to curtail gun violence, reports Fox News. The state is known to be home to some of the best elk hunting in the country. But after its governor, John Hickenlooper, signed controversial bills this month banning ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, and require background checks for private and online gun sales, some out-of-state hunters say they’ll take their business elsewhere. “There’s a united front of sportsmen that are tired of having their freedoms and liberties and fundamental rights taken away from them,” said Chris Jurney, vice president of the Colorado Outfitters Association. “That kind of unity among sportsmen is going to be big, and unfortunately for those of us who live here, we’re going to suffer the consequences of this misguided legislation.”
- Don’t judge a book by its title, the saying goes. Perhaps the same adage should be applied to federal legislation, says a report from dailycaller.com. Under the Affordable Care Act, medical claim costs, the largest driver of health insurance premiums, are expected to increase by 32 percent for individuals, a new study by the Society of Actuaries finds. Though some states might see declines in cost-per-person medical claims, the report found “the overwhelming majority will see double-digit increases in their individual health insurance markets, where people purchase coverage directly from insurers,” the Associated Press reports.
- While the White House says sequestration has eliminated funds for children touring the White House, President Obama has no problem spending $350 million federal tax dollars for sexual indoctrination programs starting in kindergarten for those same children, according to bighealthreport.com. “This is not your grandmother’s sex education about how things work and what can go ‘wrong.’ In fact, the exact opposite is the essence of the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP): Obamacare funnels $75 million annually into PREP, which must be used exclusively for Planned Parenthood-style ‘comprehensive’ sex ed programs where no type of sex is wrong and the only sexual behavior PP considers ‘unsafe’ is becoming pregnant. More than one-fourth of the funds—$20 million—has been awarded to a coalition of six Planned Parenthood affiliates, operating under the name Northwest Coalition for Adolescent Health, to implement HHS’s TOP program across Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Alaska at over 50 sites. In Oregon schools, Planned Parenthood is paying children cash incentives to participate. PP is funded with our tax dollars to market sex to our children in our schools under the guise of sex education, anti-bullying, diversity, and tolerance. Once sexualized, those children then become PP sex customers for contraceptives, STD testing, and abortion.”