A California megachurch pastor involved in the National Day of Prayer who has recently come under fire for his views on homosexuality has declared that he will not be intimidated, The Christian Post reports. At a prayer event held Wednesday morning at the Washington, D.C., office of the Family Research Council, Pastor Greg Laurie told those gathered, “I won’t back down.” “They do not want me to pray. They describe me as ‘homophobic’ and so forth. How can you deal with such a situation? We’re in a time in our country now where I’m attacked because I believe what the Bible teaches,” said Laurie, ahead of Thursday’s National Day of Prayer. Laurie paralleled the efforts of gay rights activists to that of the palace officials who sought to stop Daniel (in the Old Testament) from praying and passed a law that resulted in him being thrown into the Lion’s den. “Here is something that we need to learn from that. The Devil does not want us to pray. It’s been said that Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees,” said Laurie. “I’ve had people try to stop me from praying this week. And we have these activist homosexual groups who have alerted their people to petition the Pentagon.” In recent days, LGBT organizations like the Human Rights Campaign have demanded that government officials bar Laurie from leading National Day of Prayer events in the nation’s capital this week. Not the first time gay activists have attempted to get clergy opposed to homosexuality removed from a major national event, LGBT activists in January successfully got the Rev. Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Roswell, Ga., to withdraw from saying the closing prayer at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. Meanwhile, WorldNetDaily reports that President Obama issued a statement endorsing the National Day of Prayer, but he excised virtually any reference to Christianity, the primary faith of the nation’s founders. In contrast, President George W. Bush’s proclamations routinely included references to Christian faith. “By surrendering our lives to our loving Father,” Bush said in his 2008 statement, “we learn to serve His eternal purposes, and we are strengthened, refreshed, and ready for all that may come.” Bush’s comments also included references to the Bible. He cited Psalm 28:7, which states, “The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.”
- Religious liberty groups have grave concerns, reports The Christian Post, after they learned the Pentagon is vetting its guide on religious tolerance with a group that compared Christian evangelism to rape and advocated that military personnel who proselytize should be court martialed. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is calling on the Air Force to enforce a regulation that they believe calls for the court martial of any service member caught proselytizing. President Mikey Weinstein and others from his organization met privately with Pentagon officials on April 23. He said U.S. troops who proselytize are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished—by the hundreds if necessary—to stave off what he called a “tidal wave of fundamentalists.” “Someone needs to be punished for this,” Weinstein told Fox News. “Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior.” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Fox News he was stunned that the Pentagon would be taking counsel and advice from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. “Why would military leadership be meeting with one of the most rabid atheists in America to discuss religious freedom in the military?” Perkins said. “That’s like consulting with China on how to improve human rights.” The FRC has launched a petition drive urging Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel to protect the religious freedom of troops “and not to proceed with the purge of religion within the ranks called for by anti-Christian activists.”
- An American detained for nearly six months in North Korea has been sentenced to 15 years of labor for crimes against the state, Fox News reports, a development that further complicates already strained ties between Pyongyang and Washington. The sentencing of Kenneth Bae, described by friends as a devout Christian and a tour operator, comes amid signs of tentative diplomacy following weeks of rising tensions in the region. North Korea had been warning of nuclear war and missile strikes, an angry response to U.N. sanctions for conducting a long-range rocket launch in December and a nuclear test in February, as well as U.S.-South Korean military drills in South Korea. Analysts say Pyongyang could use Bae as a bargaining chip as it seeks dialogue with Washington. In Washington, the U.S. State Department had no immediate comment. It’s not the first time an American has been arrested and sentenced to labor during a nuclear standoff, said the report. In 2009, after Pyongyang’s launch of an earlier long-range rocket and its second underground nuclear test, two American journalists were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor after sneaking across the border from China. They later were pardoned on humanitarian grounds and released to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who flew to Pyongyang on a rescue mission. He also met with then-leader Kim Jong Il, which paved the way for talks.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the sale of the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill to teens 15 and older without a prescription, a controversial move in part because the drug can cause a chemical abortion, Baptist Press reports. The announcement came one day before the Justice Department appealed a judge’s ruling related to the issue. The FDA previously allowed only teens 17 and older to obtain Plan B One-Step off the shelf. The FDA’s decision Tuesday lowers that age by two years, meaning teens who can’t yet drive will be able to obtain the drug in the aisle of a drug or grocery store without involvement by a parent or health care professional. Anna Higgins, the Family Research Council’s director of the Center for Human Dignity, said the FDA’s decision is wrong. “The effects of taking a high dose of a systematically absorbed hormone during puberty are unknown,” Higgins said. “There have been no studies on the drug’s effect on young girls. . . . If Plan B is available [over the counter], teens and women will avoid necessary medical screenings during which serious medical problems like STI’s would be detected and treated. A 2010 study out of the UK shows that the increased availability of Plan B to teens was followed by a spike in STI rates among that age group.” The FDA’s decision also infringes on the rights of parents, Higgins said. “This decision undermines the right of parents to make important health decisions for their young daughters,” she said. “Parents have every right to be involved in any health decisions that affect their children. No parent wants his or her daughter exposed to a potentially dangerous medication without their consent. Instead of allowing unfettered access to potentially dangerous drugs to teens, parent-teen communication regarding the medical and moral issues involved with sexual behavior should be encouraged.”
- Boy Scouts officials in Houston, Texas, voted Monday to maintain the organization’s policies that bar openly gay youth who seek to participate in troop activities, The Christian Post reports. The board of directors of the Sam Houston Area Council voted to support the current membership policy of the Boy Scouts of America, which “does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, but does not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA,” the council said in a statement. The Houston-area council’s vote followed an extensive survey of parents, adult leaders, chartered partners and financial partners, who, by a 75 percent majority, support maintaining the Boy Scouts national policy for membership standards, and oppose a proposed resolution that would lift the ban on openly gay members. Officials from the council said their survey results match the outcomes from an independent survey of their member parents and leaders that was conducted by the BSA. Nationwide, the BSA’s own official “Voice of the Scout” survey shows respondents support the current ban on openly homosexual members and leaders, 61 percent to 34 percent. Additionally, 72 percent of chartered organizations and 61 percent of Boy Scout parents support the current policy.
- The American pastor jailed in Iran for his faith has been placed in solitary confinement and may now be suffering organ failure, reports Fox News. Family members in Iran say they are increasingly alarmed at his deteriorating health. Saeed Abedini, the 32-year-old Christian and American citizen who is serving an eight-year prison term in Iran, was put in solitary confinement following a “peaceful, silent protest” in an outside courtyard at Iran’s notoriously brutal Evin prison, according to family members. Conditions at the prison prompted Abedini and other prisoners to sign a petition decrying the lack of medical care and the threats and harsh treatment facing family members who come to visit.
- The Alabama State legislature is warning the federal government and others to back off on gun control legislation, freedomoutpost.com reports. On Tuesday, the Alabama State Senate passed legislation that declared, “All federal acts, laws, orders, rules or regulations regarding firearms are a violation of the Second Amendment.” The vote was 24-6 and also declared that all federal laws in violation of the Second Amendment (which are all of them) would be considered null and void in Alabama. Republican Senator Paul Sanford of Huntsville confirmed that the legislation was the result of hundreds of e-mails and calls he received from his constituents in north Alabama. Those constituents were concerned about the threatening manner in which Congress has been hell-bent on gun control legislation. Especially new gun restrictions, including a ban on multiple weapons, such as Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had put forth.
- The South Carolina House of Representatives passed a nullification bill Wednesday to block enforcement of ObamaCare in the Palmetto State, bighealthreport.com reports. By a vote of 65-39, state representatives placed South Carolina on a collision course with the Obama administration with their approval of HB 3101, a bill prohibiting state officers and agents from carrying out the myriad mandates contained in President Obama’s medical care morass. Since the opening of the 120th session of the South Carolina state legislature, a broad coalition of South Carolinians and organizations have urged the state House of Representatives to stand up to the federal health care “tyranny” by passing the South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act. Michael Boldin, executive director of the influential Tenth Amendment Center, provided critical services to the effort to pass the ObamaCare-busting bill, and he likewise praised the courage of the South Carolina House of Representatives. “The Supreme Court may have an opinion on the Affordable Care Act. But they’re going to have a hard time enforcing it if the People of the states feel differently. The congratulation goes out to all the hard working people in South Carolina,” said Boldin, as quoted in a Greenville Post article. All that hard work was almost for naught, however. Wednesday was the final day bills could be transmitted from the state House to the state Senate, and in the House opponents of the bill from both sides of the aisle fought fiercely to prevent the measure from beating the statutory deadline.