Tens of thousands of pro-lifers joined together Jan. 23 for the annual March for Life that followed a weekend of pro-life events in the Washington area, reports Baptist Press. The march drew its usually immense crowd in spite of intermittent rain. Young people, especially teenagers, dominated the march. “Every year the crowd gets younger,” said Barrett Duke, vice president of public policy for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Duke joined in the march, which stretched along the National Mall to the Supreme Court. “There was probably only one gray head for every 40 or 50, maybe more, this year,” said Duke, whose first March for Life came in 2004. “I’ve watched that change every year I’ve been in the marches, and this year was utterly astonishing to me. Not only are the young people there—elementary grade kids, high school kids, college kids—but they’re there with a vibrancy, just an excitement about them being part of a movement that is about saving innocent human life.” He said, “I saw what almost certainly could be described as an emerging pro-life culture among young people in this country.” Duke said he has “no doubt that we are going to see Roe versus Wade overturned in this country.” Young people “will change the culture in this country, and they will be part of a movement that will rein in abortion on demand,” he said. Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., one of Congress’ leading pro-life advocates, said preventing Obama from winning re-election in November is vital. “The past three years of abortion extremism by President Obama is a mere foretaste—a mere foreshadowing—of what will be if he is re-elected,” Smith told marchers, according to prepared remarks. “Given four more years, Mr. Obama will further pack the courts—including and especially the U.S. Supreme Court—with litmus-tested pro-abortion judges perched to retain the infamous holdings of Roe.”
- In his State of the Union address this week, President Obama called on all states to raise their school compulsory attendance age to 18, unnecessarily adding to bureaucratic requirements for homeschoolers, reports ChristianNewsWire. Homeschool advocates at the Home School Legal Defense Association say they are dedicated to protecting the educational relationship between parents and their children, and that parents, not the federal government and certainly not the president, are the ones who should decide how children are educated and when they’re ready to graduate from high school. Michael Farris, founder and chairman of HSLDA, expressed the shock felt by homeschoolers: “There appears to be no limit to the president’s desire for power. Car companies, banks, doctors, and now schools and the family. He’s gone way too far this time.” State-mandated attendance has not been the historical norm. In 1642, the Massachusetts Bay Colony stipulated that parents provide religious instruction for their children. For the next 200 years, most education laws were minimal and focused on family-centered education, giving children the tools to read, write, and do arithmetic, helping them understand what it meant to be virtuous citizens, and allowing them to learn a trade. Ultimately, a formulaic and compulsory approach to education fails to instill in children a love of learning or a quality education. HSLDA President J. Michael Smith confirmed, “HSLDA has consistently protected homeschool families from the harmful effects of compulsory attendance education in their states, reinforcing the parental right to choose the method and duration of education most fitting to the individual needs and gifts of their children.”
- The War Memorial Protection Act passed on a voice vote in the Republican-controlled House but faces uncertainty in the Senate, reports latimes.com. The measure, which would allow religious symbols to be included in military monuments, was introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the 43-foot cross atop Mount Soledad an unconstitutional “government endorsement of religion.” The measure’s approval came the same day the House passed the World War II Memorial Prayer Act, authorizing installation of a plaque or inscription at the World War II Memorial in Washington of the prayer that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered on the morning of the Allies’ invasion of Europe. Hunter said his legislation was needed in the face of legal challenges against the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial “and the likelihood of more to come.” “Our Constitution protects the freedom of religion, not freedom from it,” Rep. Brian P. Bilbray (R), a bill cosponsor, told his colleagues. “This issue is one that has gone so far that we’re actually talking about tearing crosses down over war memorials.” In contrast, Dena Sher, legislative counsel in the ACLU’s Washington legislative office, called the bill “a misguided attempt to sanction government promotion of religion.”
- Eighty mayors, led by ones from some of the nation’s largest and most-influential cities, have signed a document pledging to fight for legalizing gay marriage, reports Baptist Press. The mayors of New York City, Boston, Houston, San Diego, and Los Angeles are co-chairs of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition, which also includes the mayors of Portland, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Philadelphia. Traditional groups warn that legalizing gay marriage will harm religious freedom, and they point to a series of recent legal cases, including ones in which Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts and Illinois chose to stop doing business with the state instead of being forced to place children in same-sex homes. Massachusetts had legalized gay marriage, Illinois civil unions. Traditionalists also warn that redefining marriage could impact what is taught in public schools and could affect the tax exempt status of religious organizations. Baptist Press also notes that the effort to redefine marriage nationwide could take a critical turn either way this year, with as many as four more states potentially legalizing gay marriage or as many as six states possibly voting to protect the traditional definition of marriage. Gay activists also could reach one of their biggest goals: a first-ever victory at the ballot box. Democratic-controlled legislatures in Washington, Maryland, and New Jersey are set to consider gay marriage bills, while Maine citizens are set to vote on a gay marriage referendum in November. If those four states redefine marriage, it would provide gay activists with a milestone: same-sex marriage would be legal in 10 states. But conservatives, who warn that religious liberty will take a hit if those bills pass, also could win in each of those states. Washington and Maryland allow citizens to place recently enacted laws directly on the ballot, and New Jersey’s governor has threatened to veto that state’s bill while urging it to be placed before voters. Elsewhere, North Carolina and Minnesota citizens will consider constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman. In New Hampshire, the Republican-controlled legislature is poised to vote on a bill that would reverse that state’s gay marriage law. When including Maine, voters in at least six states could have their say on marriage. All total, the action in the states could make gay marriage a major presidential campaign topic.
- Students at Pepperdine University, a Christian school “committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values,” have collected nearly 4,000 signatures via a change.org petition, in protest of school leaders’ decision to deny recognition to an on-campus homosexual-support group, reports onenewsnow.com. Students filed an application for the recognition of Reach OUT on the university’s Malibu campus and were denied roughly a month later. Gary Marx, executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, does not think it is wrong for a Christian school to stick to its values. “No university should be forced to put in place an institutionalized formal entity on a campus that would specifically undermine the values that that campus is committed towards teaching,” he contends. Students protesting the decision claim the university is creating an environment that excludes LGBT students. But the dean of students says the group’s mission does not fit the school’s policy and religious beliefs. “The campus officials at Pepperdine have a responsibility to their founders, their donors, and to their board to maintain the high standards and academic excellence that they currently promote on their campus,” Marx adds. This is reportedly the fourth time an on-campus LGBT group has been denied or discouraged from applying at Pepperdine University.
- A pro-family Orthodox Jewish rabbi is concerned that a potential Republican vice-presidential candidate has appointed an open homosexual to his state’s supreme court, reports onenewsnow.com. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) has announced he will nominate Bruce Harris to one of the two openings on the state’s high court. But he has also told legislators that he would veto a proposed Senate bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. He is encouraging those who support such unions to let the New Jersey voters decide. “Let’s put the question of same-sex marriage on the ballot this fall in the hands of the people, the time when the most people will be voting—the presidential election year,” he urged. But New York City Rabbi Yehuda Levin says something is wrong with Christie appointing the homosexual judge, then calling for the people to decide the issue. “You’re either with us or against us; you can’t be halfway,” he contends. “And Christie is not a strong social conservative. He’s a social moderate, and this is unacceptable.” Levin is also concerned that Christie, who is a supporter of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, has already been mentioned as a possible running mate for the former Massachusetts governor. “This is Romney’s friend. He’s doing just like Romney—everything short of homosexual ‘marriage,’” the rabbi notes. “Romney has to be defeated at any cost, or we know what kind of Supreme Court nominees he will appoint and how that will impact on our country for decades to come.” Levin believes a Romney-Christie ticket would be focused on the economy, but he says no amount of financial tinkering can save a country that is morally bankrupt.
- Following Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s reforming his state’s collective bargaining laws and breaking the stranglehold unions held on taxpayers, which are said to saving them $476 million so far, union bosses across the country laid siege on the Dairy State’s capitol and declared war on Walker and his fellow Republicans, according to redstate.com. In 2011, union bosses and other outside groups spent tens of millions of dollars in a failed attempt to recall six Republican state senators and are spending millions more now trying to recall Scott Walker, says the news report. The millions that union bosses are now spending—paid for by union members throughout the country—has Democrats getting nervous that the money spent might strain union coffers too much prior to the November elections. According to the Hill, Unions have made ousting Walker a top priority and are poised to spend heavily in Wisconsin. But Democrat strategists and some senior political experts within the labor movement believe the initiative should have been launched before the November presidential election when money will be needed for more important battlegrounds such as Ohio and Florida. Labor officials are also looking at investing resources in Indiana, a red-leaning state, to battle controversial right-to-work legislation backed by Gov. Mitch Daniels (R). But the Wisconsin fight will consume far more resources. This is a stomach-churning prospect for Democrats and their allies because the labor expenditures could come just months before the general election. As union bosses continue to pour money into Wisconsin, union members nationwide may begin to wonder if, in fact that is money well spent—especially since, Scott Walker’s poll numbers are still ahead of his (potential) Democratic rivals. After a year of union and left-wing attacks, most Wisconsinites know the issues well by now. As a result, as union bosses dump more and more money that would otherwise be earmarked for other Democrat races, it is not likely to affect Walker’s poll numbers too dramatically, which may prove to be a win-win for Republicans around the country and in Wisconsin.
- School officials at Shawano High School in Wisconsin have censored and punished Brandon Wegner, a 15-year-old, for writing an op-ed article explaining the Biblical view of homosexuality and supporting natural mother-father adoption, according to Liberty Counsel and the American Family Association. After Wegner wrote the article, he was pulled into hours of meetings with school administrators and staff, without his parents’ knowledge. Superintendent Todd Carlson told him that the column “went against the bullying policy,” and asked him if he “regretted” writing it. According to Liberty Counsel, when Wegner stated that he did not regret writing it and that he stood behind his beliefs, Superintendent Carlson told him that he had “to be one of the most ignorant kids to try to argue with him about this topic,” that “we have the power to suspend you if we want to,” and that the column had “personally offended me, so I know you offended other people!” Wegner’s opinion was a part of an editorial page that presented viewpoints both for and against homosexual adoption, each articulated by a student. After the school newspaper was published in the local paper, a homosexual in the community complained to the school. School officials then censored Wegner’s article, forcing him and his classmates to pull the page out of the newspaper before distribution at the school. Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, “The bullying at Shawano High School is by Superintendent Todd Carlson and the school officials, not the student, Brandon Wegner. The school officials have displayed blatant intolerance of a view on homosexuality held by many people. The school’s actions are shocking and unjustified. The superintendent should immediately apologize and stop the bullying.”