Hobby Lobby, the Christian-owned company that provides hobby, art, and craft supplies to tens of millions of customers across America, will defy the Obamacare mandate that health insurance for its employees cover “abortion-inducing drugs,” reports WorldNetDaily. The confirmation is from a statement released by an attorney, Kyle Duncan, who said, “The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.” The conflict is the latest firefight in the battle against Obama’s mandate that employers pay for abortifacients no matter their religious beliefs. The administration has argued in many of the dozens of lawsuits that have erupted over the conflict that religious people who own corporations must give up their rights to religious freedom. Hobby Lobby’s case against the mandate remains pending in a lower court, but the statement from the attorney, who is with the Becket Fund, was released after an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected. Officials estimate the company could face $1.3 million in daily fines for refusing to pay for abortifacients as Obama demands. Sonya Sotomayor, who responds to emergency actions to the Supreme Court from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, simply told the company that officials could pay up for the abortifacients or face crushing penalties while its case continues in the lower courts. Duncan’s statement confirmed those appeal efforts will continue. “The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time. It left open the possibility of review after their appeal is completed in the 10th Circuit,” he wrote. Sotomayor wrote in her rejection of the appeal for recognition of the Constitution’s requirement for freedom of religion that the company didn’t meet the legal standard for blocking enforcement of the Obama demand. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of Christian business owners, religious colleges, and others. Several judges, including those at one appellate bench, have ordered the government not to enforce the mandate for now.
- An Annapolis, Md., company whose old-fashioned trolleys are iconic in the city’s wedding scene has abandoned the nuptial industry rather than serve same-sex couples, reports baltimoresun.com. The owner of Discover Annapolis Tours said he decided to walk away from $50,000 in annual revenue instead of compromising his Christian convictions when same-sex marriages become legal in Maryland in less than a week. And he has urged prospective clients to lobby state lawmakers for a religious exemption for wedding vendors. Wedding vendors elsewhere who refused to accommodate same-sex couples have faced discrimination lawsuits—and lost. Legal experts said Discover Annapolis Tours sidesteps legal trouble by avoiding all weddings.
- It makes homes more comfortable with IKEA, driving safer with Volvo, and communication easier with Skype—but when it comes to homeschooling, the country of Sweden makes parents’ life as difficult as possible, reports onenewsnow.com. Soon after losing a major legal battle to the Namdar family over the right to homeschool their children for religious reasons, the Swedish government struck back with an appeal in the Supreme Administrative Court in an attempt to swipe that right away. Because of the political and secular climate within Sweden’s public schools, Rabbi Alexander and Leah Namdar decided to home educate their five children to ensure that their instruction ran parallel to their Jewish beliefs. Just weeks after an appellate judge’s verdict supported the parents’ right to homeschool their children, Swedish government officials challenged the decision. Earlier this year, the Swedish authorities threatened to fine the Namdar family each day they withheld their children from attending public school in order to instruct them from home. The Namdars then filed suit, challenging the Gothenburg municipality’s decision coercing them to abide by the Swedish school law, which declares that homeschooling is permitted only in “exceptional circumstances” and never based on religious or philosophical family viewpoints. When the judge examined the exemplary education the children were receiving at home, it was found that Sweden is obliged to respect familial convictions. But this latest appeal is no stranger to Swedes. Just a month ago the country’s Social Welfare Committee, which kept Swedish homeschooler Domenic Johansson separated from his parents for more than three years, appealed a June decision that upheld the parental rights of his father and mother, Christer and Annie Johansson. In 2009, Swedish police seized 7-year-old Domenic after boarding a plane bound from Sweden as the family was minutes from departing to do missionary work in India. Initially, state authorities “permitted” the parents to see Dominic one hour every five weeks, but they haven’t seen Dominic since December 2010. Such authoritarian policies that allow the type of government intervention that usurped the Johanssons’ and Namdars’ parental rights are not even in line with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, says Annelie Enochson, a member of the Christian Democrat party.
- A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee is not optimistic that drastic defense cuts will be avoided as part of the sequestration that will take effect early next year, barring a last-minute deal, reports onenewsnow.com. Last year, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to come up with a blueprint to reduce the national deficit by $1.5 trillion. As a result, as mandated by the Budget Control Act, $1.2 trillion dollars in budget cuts will be implemented Jan. 3. And under sequestration, the Pentagon will have to absorb $492 million of those cuts. Roger Wicker (R-MS) says sequestration appears likely, and he believes those cuts will devastate America’s national defense and economy. “Unless the president can get a dose of reality, we are headed off that cliff,” he warns. “And part of that cliff is sequestration and the loss of defense-related jobs—a million nationwide—at a time when we have some very, very serious threats.”
- The governor of Michigan has signed a major piece of pro-life legislation that will stop abortions by protecting women and holding abortion facilities accountable for following basic health and safety standards. The bill Gov. Rick Snyder has signed includes measures to license and inspect abortion clinics, prevent coercive abortion, and stop so-called telemed abortions, all intended to protect women and unborn children and further drive down the number of abortions in the state. Gov. Snyder signed HB 5711, an omnibus bill, also known as the Prolife Bus. The purpose of the Prolife Bus is to hold the abortion industry to the same health and safety standards as other medical providers. Patients’ safety must be put ahead of abortion profits. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s major abortion chain, had called on Snyder to veto the bill, saying it “creates unnecessary, burdensome and costly licensing requirements for women’s health centers and will reduce access to comprehensive care for women in rural areas via a telemedicine ban.” But Right to Life of Michigan Legislative Director Ed Rivet says, “The best interests of women, their unborn children and the state of Michigan were well-served by the committee members who voted to pass the Pro-life Bus bill.” Reacting to the signing, the Today, the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life women’s group, told LifeNews it was thanking Gov. Snyder signed the bill, which it says puts into place common-sense regulations of abortion businesses, protects women from being coerced into an abortion, ends the disposal of aborted children in trash bins, and prevents abortion pills from being distributed by webcam.
- Texas public school curriculum is teaching students that “Allah is the Almighty God,” which is beginning to catch the attention of critics, reports onenewsnow.com. The creators of that curriculum, however, claim critics are taking information out of context. The private curriculum, CSCOPE, is being used in 70 percent of K–12 public school classes. The “comprehensive, customized, user-friendly curriculum support system” was developed by the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative. But critics like Ginger Russell, a member of the tea party, are finding that the program teaches that “Allah alone is the Creator” as fact, without any opposing viewpoint. “They had a PowerPoint presentation on there on Islam, and it did say that—that ‘Allah is the Almighty God,'” Russell accounts. “It doesn’t give any controversial view to it or disprove of that.” In addition, portions of the Quran are handed out to accompany the PowerPoint presentation, according to Russell. “The lesson that went with this PowerPoint asked you to hand out the verses of the Quran to the kids to go over,” the critic reports. CSCOPE, which is independent of the Texas State Board of Education, also teaches that the Boston Tea Party was carried out by a band of terrorists and that the Second Amendment is limited to state-run organizations. But because the program operates outside the board of education, public review of the content is not permitted. Even parents are denied access to this online program.
- Orphans in Russia will no longer be able to find parents willing to adopt them in the United States once a new law that President Vladimir Putin says he will sign goes into effect, reports The Christian Post. About 60,000 Russian orphans have been adopted by American families over the past 20 years, making it second only to China in the number of inter-country adoptions to the United States. Micael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, said the new law “will needlessly remove the path to families for hundreds of Russian children each year.” Dozens of Russian orphans who are already in the process of being adopted will be cut off from being matched with new parents as a result of the law.
- The death penalty, already on the decline across the United States, could face its own demise at the hands of several state legislatures in 2013, reports The Washington Times. Accelerating a trend, lawmakers in Colorado, Maryland, and New Hampshire are expected to make a push for pulling the plug on capital punishment in the next legislative session, following the moves of Connecticut, which abolished the death penalty this year.
- As the U.S. stands on the edge of the fiscal cliff and an amass of taxes, Barack Obama has just signed an executive order that will raise the pay of Congress and federal workers, reports freedomoutpost.com. According to a presidential executive order issued last Thursday, there will be an end to pay freezes on federal employees, which would give many federal workers a raise. Some of those “workers” are Vice President Joe Biden and members of Congress.
- Sam Swicegood, a Pizza Hut delivery man in Maryland, fought off a group of attackers as he was attempting to deliver pizzas, yet Pizza Hut gave him a demotion, reports freedomoutpost.com. According to Swicegood, he was sucker punched, which caused his glasses to “fly off.” He then dropped the pizzas he was carrying and began to swing a small piece of a tent pole he had at his attackers, while covering his face, in an attempt to defend himself. Swicegood faced five attackers and said those odds were “just not a good situation to be in.” He said, “I thought I was about to die.” The attackers fled without his money or his pizzas. However, Fox News Insider said that Pizza Hut cut his hours and his pay for violating their “no weapons policy.” Swicegood is a college student trying to make ends meet delivering pizzas. He said, “I was making about 11 or 12 dollars in tips,” which helped pay for college. In November, one of Sam’s coworkers was held at gunpoint and robbed in the same area that Swicegood was attacked. So far three of the five individuals who attacked Swicegood have been arrested. They are all juveniles. Said a writer, “I’ll take my business elsewhere when I’m purchasing pizzas from now on until they make this right. After all, Sam and people like him are performing a job for them and in these cases they are doing it by putting their lives on the line, literally. This is just one more area where if the company wants to exercise the right to disarm their employees they should be able to also be sued if the employee is attacked for the company’s failure to provide adequate protection. Otherwise, allow people to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
- “If Obamacare is allowed to survive, then our Constitution has no meaning and our Republic is finished. It will engender a takeover of 1/6 of our economy, create permanent dependency, induce unsustainable inflationary pressure on the cost of healthcare and health insurance, and saddle the next generation with crippling debt,” according to Daniel Horowitz at RedState.com, reports bighealthreport.com. The report continued, “It will impose more than 20 new taxes. . . . It will add more than a TRILLION dollars to our deficit in 10 years. . . . It will limit our options when it comes to care. . . . It will send insurance premiums soaring. . . . Obamacare is America’s new nightmare. It must be stalled, defunded, and repealed. Even Democrats who voted for it are beginning to see its terrible consequences. The 2.3 percent medical devices tax is scheduled to take effect January 1st, and now 16 Democratic Senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act are asking that the tax be delayed, as it is ‘job-killing’ according to Senator Al Franken; and they say it will hurt American competitiveness.”
- Following the shooting in Newtown, Conn., a suburban New York newspaper sparked quite an uproar among gun enthusiasts by publishing names and addresses of residents who held pistol permits, reports townhall.com. Now this same newspaper is looking to publish even more names. More names and addresses will be added to a map that was originally posted on Christmas Eve in the Journal News from White Plains, N.Y. The first map listed thousands of pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland county, which are just north of New York City. Along with an article titled “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood,” the map was compiled in response to the Dec. 14 shooting deaths of 26 children and adults in Newtown, Conn., editors of the Gannett Corp.-owned newspaper said. This next list will show the names of permit holders in Putnam County, N.Y. The county clerk told the newspaper that it is still compiling information. Some 44,000 people are licensed to own pistols in the three counties, the newspaper said. However, owners of rifles and shotguns do not need permits. According to Reuters the publication prompted outrage, particularly on social media sites, among gun owners. Rob Seubert of Silver Spring, Md., posted on the newspaper’s website, “Do you fools realize that you also made a map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no guns in them to protect themselves?”