President Obama addressed the nation’s largest abortion provider Friday, criticizing pro-life laws on the state level and saying that those who wish to restrict or ban abortion are trying to turn back “progress,” Baptist Press reports. Obama never mentioned the word “abortion” during his speech at the Planned Parenthood gala, preferring words such as “choice.” Planned Parenthood performed a record 333,964 abortions during 2010–11, the most recent year for which statistics are available. He became the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood. “After decades of progress there’s still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century,” Obama said. “And they’re involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women’s health. Forty-two states have introduced laws that would ban or severely limit access to a woman’s right to choose.” He mentioned, by name, two states: North Dakota and Mississippi. Obama did not discuss Kermit Gosnell, the abortion doctor who allegedly practiced infanticide in his clinic and faces counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of viable children who were killed after delivery. President Obama ended his address by saying to Planned Parenthood, “God bless you,” weeklystandard.com notes.
- Tim Tebow, football star and outspoken Christian, was waived by the Jets on Monday, the end of an unsuccessful one-season experiment in New York, foxsports.com reports. Coach Rex Ryan said in a statement by the team in announcing the move that had been expected for months: ”Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped.” The Heisman Trophy winner attempted just eight passes after his ballyhooed arrival in a surprising trade from the Denver Broncos in March 2012. He threw for 39 yards and rushed 32 times for 102 yards—and stunningly had no touchdowns as a member of the Jets. Meanwhile, starter Mark Sanchez struggled amid constant questions about Tebow’s playing time, and still Tebow remained mostly on the sideline. The Jets and new general manager John Idzik drafted former West Virginia star Geno Smith in the second round of the NFL draft Friday, giving New York six quarterbacks on its roster—and creating uncertainty about Sanchez’s future as well. Tebow arrived at the team’s facility in Florham Park, N.J., on Monday morning and was told he had been cut. ”Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason,” Ryan said. ”We wish him the best moving forward.” Tebow led the Broncos to the playoffs in 2011, but became expendable when Denver signed Peyton Manning as a free agent. The popular backup quarterback was acquired by the Jets for a fourth-round draft pick and $1.5 million in salary. He was introduced at the Jets’ facility to plenty of fanfare at a lavish news conference, with Tebow repeatedly saying he was ”excited” to be in New York. It turned out to be one of the few high points in Tebow’s stay with the Jets. Meanwhile, foxsports.com reports NBA veteran Jason Collins became the first active male player in the four major American professional sports to come out as gay. The 34-year-old center, who has played for six teams in 12 seasons, wrote a first-person account posted on Sports Illustrated‘s website Monday.
- Many people are unhappy that the Mormon church has given the Boy Scouts a pat on the back in favor of a resolution that calls for allowing homosexuals as members, instantanalysis.com reports. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday stated it is satisfied with a proposed BSA policy change that would lift the ban on homosexual youth, but retain its current ban on homosexual adult leaders. The LDS statement describes the proposal as a “thoughtful, good-faith effort” to address an issue the Scouts say is “among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today.” The BSA issued a statement on Thursday as well, saying it is appreciative of the long-standing relationship with the Mormon church and of its support for the proposal. Scouts leaders are set to vote on the proposed resolution at the National Council gathering in Texas the week of May 20. The Salt Lake City–based church, which still teaches that homosexual relationships are sinful and that marriage is between a man and a woman, has in recent months encouraged its members to be more compassionate when discussing homosexuality. Consequently, Peter LaBarbera, who heads Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, says he is not all that surprised at the LDS announcement, telling American Family News that the Mormon organization has been drifting in a pro-homosexual direction. “They were intimidated by the homosexual hate directed at them following their support of Proposition 8 and other pro-marriage referenda,” he says. “This is part of the backtracking by the Mormon church. Unfortunately in this case, it endangers boys—innocent boys.” “Look, this is a church which is outside of Christendom,” he explains. “Mormons can change their core beliefs and call it a divine transformation. They did it with polygamy; they did it with racism—and now I’m afraid, I’m very afraid, that they’re going to do it with homosexuality.” LaBarbera points out that for years the Mormon organization has stood firm on marriage, pro-family politics, and cultural issues. “[But] if the Mormon church caves [on homosexuality], it will be seen as a huge victory by homosexual activists,” he laments. Meanwhile, the Southern Baptist Convention is among the many denominations waiting for a decision as the Boy Scouts meet in less than a month to decide on the policy proposal. Augie Boto is executive vice president and general counsel for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. He tells American Family News that most churches in the SBC that sponsor troops will be disappointed if the resolution passes.
- Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Friday on behalf of a sixth-grade student after a Minnesota public school prohibited her from distributing pro-life fliers to her classmates during non-instructional time, lifenews.com reports. “Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas,” said Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “The law on this is extremely clear: free speech cannot be censored simply because it expresses a certain viewpoint that administrators don’t favor. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.” In late February, the sixth-grade student and her friends at Nova Classical Academy peacefully handed out pro-life fliers at lunchtime to friends and classmates interested in the topic. One of the fliers read, “Save the baby humans. Stop abortion.” A few days later, they were called into the school director’s office and told that some students find pro-life fliers offensive and that they were no longer allowed to pass them out during or after school hours, even if students requested them. School policy also requires students to obtain “prior approval from an administrator” before engaging in free speech. “Students should not need a permission slip every time they wish to express their views on current events of the day,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We hope that Nova Classical Academy will revise its policy so that its students can exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms.” Stanley Zahorsky, one of more than 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, is serving as local counsel in the case, A.Z. v. Nova Classical Academy, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.
- When it comes to the persecution of Christians, President Obama appears to have a tin ear. The question is: why? asks Michael Youssef for The Christian Post, who raised several related penetrating questions: “Why would a president who claims to be a Christian seem to deliberately help install and collaborate with an Islamist government in Egypt? Many highly-placed Egyptian leaders have revealed that his collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood began long before President Mubarak’s fall. Why would Mr. Obama remain silent after being informed again and again of the atrocities committed against Christians in Egypt—atrocities committed by the very government he helped bring to power? Why would Mr. Obama allow Egypt to remain as the second-highest recipient of U.S. foreign aid while the greatest terrorist build up since al Qaida in Afghanistan now takes place in the Sinai Desert? Why would Mr. Obama offer no public criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood after their police stood watch while the Coptic Cathedral was attacked by Islamists and then tear-gassed by the police themselves? Why would the so-called ‘leader’ of the so-called ‘free world’ remain silent while other world leaders speak up? Recently, Angela Merkel of Germany boldly stated that ‘Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world.’ Mr. Obama, however, says nothing.”
- Christians in Iraq continue to be targets of violent attacks, reports Mission Network News. “When the Iraq war began, Muslim extremists in Baghdad targeted one whole community called Dara, where the Christians lived in Baghdad,” Open Doors minister-at-large Paul Estabrooks notes. “Today, just about every one of those Christian families has been driven out of the subdivision in which they lived. The Christians are being told, ‘We want a Muslim-only nation. We do not want any Christians here.’ This is similar to what is going on today in northern Sudan.” While the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 may have been a victory for coalition forces, ongoing changes in leadership have been a disaster for Iraqi Christians. Estabrooks says, “As each attack against Christians occurs in recent weeks and days, there are more and more concerns that Christians will continue the exodus.” Reports from Open Doors field workers indicate anti-Christian sentiment is only growing. “From a city like Mosul, armed men shot a Christian right in front of his home. Another one had a bomb thrown in his yard.” In 2003, there were more than one million Christians in Iraq. A decade later, only a third of this number remain. The saddest part of this story, says Estabrooks, is the loss of history. Christians have been part of the fabric of Iraqi society since the beginning. During the 7th century, Islam took over and the Christians were hard-pressed, but they survived. That’s what makes this modern day “religicide” a travesty. “Even though they were second class citizens at the time, they were able to survive through the challenges and the pressure of that era (7th century Islam). Now, even these denominations are saying, ‘If more and more Christians keep leaving or get killed, then there will be no Church left in this country.'” Does intercessory prayer make a difference? It must, says Estabrooks. “It is the only recourse we really have other than giving awareness to the international community of this kind of ‘religious cleansing’ that seems to be going on.” According to the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List materials, there are only an estimated 330,000 to 350,000 Christians left in Iraq. There were more than 1.2 million Christians in the early 1990s. Many of the believers have fled to Jordan and Lebanon, or to the northern Kurdish region of Iraq. Iraq is ranked No. 4 on the list of the worst persecutors around the globe. Despite the doom and gloom of this story, it does include a bright note. People are accepting Christ as Savior. Mentoring these new Christians falls on the shoulders of the few church leaders who are left. The Open Doors ministry in Iraq says it is coming alongside this remnant and providing trauma counseling, Biblical training for church leaders and Muslim-background believers, distribution of Bibles and Christian literature, community development projects, and working with Internally Displaced Peoples in Kurdistan.
- Congress cited public outrage as the reason for moving swiftly to end flight delays caused by the sequester. However, very few Americans were actually impacted. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 16 percent of all American adults knew anyone affected by the delays. However, upper-income Americans were far more likely to have been impacted than those who earn less. And, noted Rasmussen, most Members of Congress fly home on a regular basis. Rasmussen also took a latest poll which shows that more voters believe the new health care law has hurt more than helped them. Some 17 percent have a “very favorable” view of the law, and 35 percent have a “very unfavorable” one.
- Israel’s International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz warns a nuclear Iran is the equivalent of 30 nuclear North Koreas, reports newsmax.com. Steinitz, speaking at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York, said that 80 years ago “only one person identified on time and warned the world against the rearmament of Nazi Germany. This was Winston Churchill, but people refused to listen. Some people even mocked him. We shouldn’t repeat the same mistake again.” The Nazis pushed for a “final solution” of exterminating Jews during the Holocaust, he said, and today Iran calls for destroying the Jewish state in the Middle East. “We have to learn from history, even if it doesn’t repeat itself exactly,” Steinitz said. On another subject, Steinitz denied accusations that Israel has pressured the United States to take military action in Syria following news that the Bashar Assad regime has used chemical weapons. “It is up to the U.S. to decide its policy on Syria,” he said. “Of course, we exchange views with the U.S. about the situation; it’s a very complex and difficult issue.”
- “Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.” Those words were recently written by Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, in a column he wrote for the Huffington Post. Weinstein will be a consultant to the Pentagon to develop new policies on religious tolerance, including a policy for court-martialing military chaplains who share the Christian Gospel during spiritual counseling of American troops, breitbart.com reports. He cites Dr. James Dobson—the famous Christian founder of Focus on the Family—as “illustrating the extremist, militant nature of these virulently homophobic organizations’ rhetorically-charged propaganda.” Regarding those who teach orthodox Christian beliefs from the Bible, Weinstein concludes, “Let’s call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters.” Weinstein then endorses the ultra-left Southern Poverty Law Center, who publishes a list of “hate groups.” Alongside truly deplorable organizations like the KKK, the SPLC’s list includes a host of traditional Christian organizations (for their support of traditional marriage) and Tea Party organizations (for supporting limited government). Weinstein says SPLC correctly labels them all as “hate groups.”