The head of a Messianic Jewish ministry says it’s too early to know just what kind of government might emerge from Tuesday’s surprise election results in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party got the most votes in Israel’s national election Tuesday, but a respectable showing by centrists could slow or halt a rightward swing in the government, notes cnn.com. Palestinian officials say they were pleasantly surprised by the unexpected surge of moderate parties in Tuesday’s election in Israel. But they doubt the moderates gained enough ground to challenge the hardline policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Jan Markell, founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries, told OneNewsNow that the supporters of Israel are shocked. “I think the polls were wrong, because everything was a lot closer than anyone anticipated,” she suggested. “It’s going to be a prolonged process as far as actually getting down to who is going to be governing. And I think this is just a surprise to absolutely everyone.” But whatever government is ultimately formed will have to deal with some serious national security threats, “one obviously being Iran, but the other front being Syria,” Markell asserts. “They’re going to have to do something,” she continued. “That is just somewhat up in the air as we speak, because these coalitions have to be formed, and these coalitions can take weeks.” The Olive Tree Ministries founder also noted the Palestinian problem.
- Pro-life advocates at the United Nations have succeeded in halting U.S. efforts to list abortion as an international right that member nations could be forced to uphold, reports worldmag.com. Speaking at a recent panel discussion on reproductive rights, U.S. State Department population policy advisor Beth Schlachter told abortion advocates their “vocal and well-coordinated” opponents made it impossible for the Obama administration to push for “sexual rights,” according to a report from the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute. Last year, eight U.N. member nations joined the Vatican to block any mention of reproductive rights and population control in a strategy document that emerged from the Rio +20 planning conference in Rio De Janeiro. Abortion activists hoped to link population control and reproductive rights to policies promoting sustainable development. But as representatives from Nicaragua noted, every nation knows “reproductive rights” is code at the U.N. for abortion, C-FAM reported. The surprise show of pro-life solidarity in Rio prompted the Obama administration to suspend plans to take reproductive policies a step further by promoting “sexual rights,” which would protect the right of children as young as 10 to make their own decisions about sex and reproduction. Despite the setback, Schlachter assured panel discussion participants the administration remained committed to supporting reproductive health and reproductive rights and linking them to the idea of population dynamics. U.S. officials will continue to push for the less encompassing reproductive rights until the U.N. adopts the language. Only then will it begin to pursue sexual rights, Schlachter said.
- Attorneys petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday to review a case that will determine whether or not the state’s domestic partnership registry is permissible under its constitution. “The lifelong, faithful union of a man and a woman is the foundation of every healthy, stable society. The people of Wisconsin recognize this, and that is why they approved a constitutional amendment that specifically protects marriage from all imitators,” said Austin R. Nimocks, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, in a statement. Wisconsin voters approved the amendment, which recognizes marriage as being between one man and one woman, in 2006. The amendment also says the state cannot validate unions that are “identical or substantially similar to marriage.” In 2009 the state legislature and then-Gov. Jim Doyle passed Chapter 770, which legalized domestic partnerships between same-sex partners. Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, and several WFA board members sued state officials over the law, arguing that domestic partnerships are too similar to marriages and therefore violate the amendment passed in 2006. After reviewing Appling v. Doyle, the Dane County Circuit Court and 4th District Court of Appeals have declared the law constitutional, causing the plaintiff’s attorneys to take the legal battle to the Supreme Court. “We are appealing the appellate court’s decision because this domestic partnership scheme is precisely the type of marriage imitation that the voters intended to prevent,” said Nimocks. When the suit was first filed several years ago, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to defend it because he believed Chapter 770 was unconstitutional. Likewise Gov. Scott Walker, who after taking office fired the attorneys hired by Doyle to defend the case, has also expressed his belief that Chapter 770 is unconstitutional. Fair Wisconsin, the organization now defending the case, estimates that there are 16,500 same-sex couples in the state, according to its website. “It is disappointing that the plaintiffs and the Alliance Defending Freedom are continuing their efforts to take away important legal protections from same-sex couples and their families. But, Fair Wisconsin, Lambda Legal and the domestic partners who have intervened in this case remain committed to defending the domestic partnership law,” Fair Wisconsin Executive Director Katie Belanger told The Christian Post in an e-mailed statement. “We look forward to presenting our arguments to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”
- A pro-gun organization is concerned that President Obama and other liberal “gun-grabbing” politicians may try to do what Germany has just started and create a vast gun registry. Germany has just implemented a registry that includes every legal gun owner in the country, along with information about all of his or her firearms. German authorities were able to compile the database based on records that in some cases were kept on index cards across what used to be 551 local registries. Mike Hammond is legislative counsel to Gun Owners of America. He says the German gun registry has done nothing to deter crime there. “They essentially have very strict gun control, and yet it hasn’t solved their crime problem,” he told OneNewsNow. “And incidentally, there are probably more illegal guns in Germany now than legal guns. So as a result of that, their national gun registry is going to do no good.” But Hammond says gun owners in America should look at the German gun registry program with a great deal of trepidation. “It would be a very short step [here] to do what Germany did—take those file cards and turn them into a national system of firearms registration,” he adds. Hammond contends government gun registration would make it much easier for the government to confiscate firearms.
- Rhode Island, the only state in New England that has not legalized gay marriage, began taking up the matter this week, reports nytimes.com. The State House is expected to pass a bill that would allow anyone to marry “any eligible person regardless of gender.” But the measure faces resistance in the State Senate and its fate is uncertain. Teresa Paiva-Weed, a Democrat who is the Senate president, opposes same-sex marriage but has said she would allow a vote on it in committee. Supporters say that if it gets to the Senate floor, the measure will pass, but opponents are skeptical and state senators are being lobbied heavily by both sides. Supporters of same-sex marriage have sought to build on the momentum from last year’s elections, when voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State approved it at the ballot box. Rhode Island is one of several states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, and New Jersey, where supporters of gay marriage are trying to make legislative gains this year. Of the nine states where gay marriage is already legal, five—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont—are in New England. (The other four are Maryland, Iowa, New York, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.) If the measure passes here, New England would become the first solid block of states in the country to allow gay marriage, underscoring the region’s reputation as the nation’s most liberal, and perhaps its least religious. A Gallup survey found that all six New England states rank among the bottom ten states for weekly church attendance.
- Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, by announcing at a press conference her reintroduction of legislation to ban all abortion providers from receiving any federal funds, including Planned Parenthood, reports bighealthreport.com. “Over the last 40 years, more than 55 million babies have been aborted,” Black said on Tuesday on Capitol Hill at the conference focused on Roe v. Wade. “Last year alone, more than one million babies were aborted in the U.S.,” she said. “One fourth of the more than one million abortions last year were administered by Planned Parenthood—America’s largest abortion provider—and taxpayers unwittingly helped foot the bill.” On Jan. 4, Black reintroduced H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which was first introduced in January 2011 by former Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “If it is signed into law, my bill would ensure that Title X federal grants are used for their intended purposes and these taxpayer dollars would be barred from going to any organizations that provide abortions, such as Planned Parenthood,” Black said.
- A recent study by LifeWay Research shows that while the majority of pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention have a will, nearly 40 percent possess no type of estate planning document at all, reports toddrhoades.com. And many younger pastors don’t even have a will. A recent survey conducted by LifeWay Research on behalf of the Southern Baptist Foundation found 37 percent of SBC pastors do not have a trust, will, living will, electronic will, legacy story, or durable power of attorney with health care directives. “Pastors know they can’t take it with them when they die, but estate planning is really about good stewardship for your family,” said Warren Peek, president of the Southern Baptist Foundation. “Basic planning saves a lot of headaches and ensures that assets are not lost.” According to the survey, pastors age 18–44 are the least likely to have durable power of attorney with health care directives (12 percent), a will (32 percent), or a living will (13 percent). Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, said the survey reveals an apparent lack of education and awareness about estate planning and accompanying laws, which may contribute to pastors not having a plan in place.
- A major reason people leave a local church is that they have a sense of entitlement rather than a servant mentality, reports thomrainer.com. Said the report, “Look at some of the direct quotes from exit interviews of people who left local congregations: ‘The worship leader refused to listen to me about the songs and music I wanted.’ ‘The pastor did not feed me.’ ‘No one from my church visited me.’ ‘I was not about to support the building program they wanted.’ ‘I was out two weeks and no one called me.’ ‘They moved the times of the worship services and it messed up my schedule.’ ‘I told my pastor to go visit my cousin and he never did.’ Church members should expect some level of ministry and concern. But, for a myriad of reasons beyond the scope of this one blogpost, we have turned church membership into country club membership. You pay your dues and you are entitled to certain benefits.”
- The new route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline was approved Tuesday by Nebraska Republican Gov. Dave Heineman, reports humanevents.com, completing the local environmental review process and putting the final approval back into the hands of President Barack Obama. Heineman told Obama in a letter that the new route will avoid fragile areas and that the pipeline would bring $418 million in economic benefits including $16 million in use taxes. Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who urged Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to complete the final process to approve the federal permit needed to begin construction, applauded the decision. “Nebraska’s approval of a new Keystone XL pipeline route means there is no bureaucratic excuse, hurdle, or catch President Obama can use to delay this project any further,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “He and he alone stands in the way of tens of thousands of new jobs and energy security. Every state along the proposed route supports this project, as does a bipartisan coalition in Congress and a majority of Americans. I recognize all the political pressure the president faces, but with our energy security at stake and many jobs in limbo, he should find a way to say yes.”