A petition urging the Obama administration to ban the teaching of creation and intelligent design in U.S. schools was recently filed on the White House website. Written by an individual simply identified as “A.J.” from Vienna, Va., the 116-word petition claims that even though Darwinian evolution is “treated as scientific fact by 99.9% of all scientists,” some schools still erroneously give credence to the “controversy” of non-evolutionary theories. “[Creationism and intelligent design] have no basis in scientific fact,” the petition claims, “and have absolutely zero evidence pointing towards these conjectures. These types of loopholes in our education are partially to blame for our dangerously low student performances in math and science. Therefore, we petition the Obama Adminstration [sic] to ban the teachings of these conjectures that contradict evolution.” Since A.J.’s petition was posted on June 15, well over 30,000 people have signed the measure, and that number continues to rapidly increase with each passing day. According to White House policies, the administration will deliver an official response if the signature count eclipses 100,000 in 30 days. The Obama administration has accepted online petitions like this one since late 2011 in an attempt to increase openness and public input with government policies. And while several of the requests involve legitimate political or legal issues, others are more trivial or even comedic in nature. (One popular petition late last year asked the government to construct a life-size spaceship from Star Wars.) Even though the creationism-banning request has received considerable media coverage, Dr. Kevin Anderson, a microbiologist with the Creation Research Society, told Christian News Network that the petition makes several faulty claims. For instance, he said that the “99.9%” figure is most likely a highly exaggerated assertion. “My personal observation is that there are more creationists than popular evolution media wants to acknowledge,” he remarked. “Evolutionists tend to over exaggerate the popularity of evolution in the scientific community and then seek comfort in this popularity. . . . Popularity of evolution has little to do with evidence; rather it is a defiance of God.” Dr. Anderson further emphasized that there is “very solid” scientific support of creation, despite what evolutionists contend. He also suggested that evolutionists’ lofty claims are normally reflexive responses, and not objective critiques of creation science. “When I debate evolutionists,” he said, “I assure you, they have few answers to my arguments, and those answers are usually either denial of the actual scientific data or attempted obfuscation of the arguments.” “Why should evolution even worry about such criticism?” he asked. “That is what science is all about; active and critical discussion of an idea. The evolutionists have repeatedly attempted to halt all open discussion. This is not the actions of those wanting free thought and open access of ideas. It certainly appears to me that evolutionists fear they have to protect their doctrine (which is really what it is), because otherwise it may not withstand an open critique.” Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, described this petition as yet another display of secular intolerance toward Biblical creationism. “For all their claims that the pursuit of science should be done with free inquiry and tolerance for dissenting views,” he commented, “many of these same people are the ones most intolerant about any alternative belief. For many of these secularists, evolution is their excuse for not believing in a God. It allows them to live their lives how they want . . . unaccountable to an absolute Authority and His absolute standards.”

Other news:

  • As part of its drive to retain congregation numbers, the Church of England is training its clergy to create a “pagan church” where Christianity will be “very much in the center,” The Christian Post reports. The mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion is seeking to create new forms of Anglicanism with which people of alternative beliefs should feel comfortable, according to The Telegraph. “I would be looking to formulate an exploration of the Christian faith that would be at home in their culture,” the daily quotes the Rev. Steve Hollinghurst, who is advising the denomination in its new endeavor, as telling the BBC. What the church is looking at is “almost to create a pagan church where Christianity was very much in the centre,” he added.
  • Christian ministry Exodus International is closing its doors after nearly 40 years, even as the organization’s leader, Alan Chambers, apologized to the gay community, cbn.com reports. Exodus tried to help gay men and women through “reparative therapy,” which holds that sexual orientation can be changed with God’s help. Among reactions by Christians were comments by R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary quoted in christianitytoday.com: “Sadly, it appears that this rethinking has resulted in something like a surrender to the cultural currents of the day. . . . While Alan Chambers is right when he insists that our beliefs do not center on ‘sin’ because ‘sin’ isn’t at the center of our faith, he seems to have lost sight of the fact that Christ came to save us from our sin. . . . The greatest tragedy is that persons experiencing same-sex attractions or involved in same-sex sexuality will be further confused by the capitulation of Exodus International.”
  • A 100-voice student choir from First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., was in Colorado on their summer tour—performing at rescue missions, nursing homes, and even at a Colorado Rockies baseball game, christianexaminer.com reports. Last Tuesday, they had been invited to sing at Focus on the Family’s headquarters in Colorado Springs. After their performance, a staff member asked if they might consider singing for the firefighters battling the Colorado fires. “We said absolutely,” music minister Chip Colee told Fox News. The Alabama youngsters were taken aback by what they saw. Local residents stood along the road leading to the command center cheering the firefighters, holding signs that read “We love our firefighters” and “Thank you.” The group started off singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and then launched into a 20-minute concert. “It was very moving—for all of us,” Colee said. Caroline Elliott, 18, told Fox News it was an honor to be able to sing for the firefighters. “I feel like it was something we had to do,” she said. “It almost felt like we had a duty to pay back to them for all they do for us.” Chris Colee, the music minister’s son, said the choir felt compelled to extend their hours in Colorado Springs. “These guys are putting it all on the line,” he said, referring to the firefighters. “It was the least we could do—to go out there and sing to the Lord for them.” After their concert, they were asked to sing for firefighters eating meals in food tents. “So we took all 100 of our kids and moved from tent to tent to sing for the guys who were eating,” the music minister said. “We were so touched. Here were these guys and ladies—hot, sweaty, exhausted. We just wanted to put a smile on their faces.” The young choir members said they hope their songs were an encouragement to the community. “All we’re trying to do is shine the light of the Lord,” the music minister said. Before they left, one firefighter told the young people she had been away from her family and her church for days. “She told us that when we started to sing ‘Amazing Grace,’ she felt like she was back home,” Colee said.
  • The Supreme Court handed down a decision on June 17 that has been ignored by most media outlets, despite its devastating effect on one of the most fundamental rights protected by the Constitution, thenewamerican.com reports. In a 5-4 ruling, the justices ruled that a person no longer has the right to remain silent as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. In relevant part, the Fifth Amendment mandates that no one “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Salinas v. Texas, that part of the Bill of Rights has been excised—and “has joined the list of so many other fundamental liberties that now lie on the scrap heap of history.”
  • While many Americans struggle to earn a living or barely scrape by on unemployment and live in fear of IRS audits, illegal aliens and non-resident aliens have gained cumulative millions off our taxpayer money, reports freedomoutpost.com. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, in 2011, the IRS sent more than $46 million in tax refunds to 23,994 “unauthorized” alien workers who all listed the same address in Atlanta, Ga. The Atlanta address wasn’t the only one that received millions in tax refunds housing thousands; there were actually four addresses in Atlanta and six in other states that were issued anywhere from 1,846 to 23,994 tax refunds each. The TIGTA audit report was published last year at the request of Congress and exposed a problem Washington has been aware of for the better part of a decade.
  • The British version of the Girl Scouts—Great Britain’s Girl Guides—has removed the promise to “love God” from the loyalty oath. God will be replaced with themselves, godfatherpolitics.com reports. The young girls will be the center of everything. “They will now vow to be true to ‘myself’ and develop ‘my beliefs.’” Julie Bentley, the new CEO of the Guides, has called the Girl Guides the “ultimate feminist organization.” The Girl Guides in Australia also deleted God from the vow last year. The Boy Scouts in Great Britain are considering a similar move next month.
  • America’s Catholic bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention joined forces on Friday, calling on Congress to pass bills that would exempt companies and nonprofits from the contraception insurance coverage mandate in President Obama’s health care law, bighealthreport.com reports. The Rev. William E. Lori, archbishop of Baltimore, and SBC President Russell D. Moore say companion bills in the House and Senate would “address threats to religious freedom and rights of conscience that have become particularly grave in the field of health care.” Moore and the archbishop, who spoke on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, praised Republican Sens. Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma, and Deb Fischer, of Nebraska, for filing the Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013 this week. The bill exempts faith-based nonprofits and religiously devout business owners from a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires them to offer contraception in their health insurance benefits for their employees.
  • In its first sexual-orientation policy update in nearly a decade, the nation’s largest pediatricians group said its members should do more to fight “heterosexism” and “homophobia,” as well as step up their care of teens with same-sex attractions, bighealthreport.com reports. “Sexual-minority youth should not be considered abnormal,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in its new materials on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youths, released Monday. The policy statement and technical report, which updates a 2004 policy, is nonbinding but recommends that pediatricians create offices that are “teen-friendly and welcoming to all adolescents, regardless of sexual orientation and behavior.”
  • A Gallup poll shows that “forty-one percent of small businesses surveyed have frozen hiring” because of ObamaCare, while an equally astonishing 19 percent have actually reduced the number of employees in their business specifically as a result of the president’s health care reform. Some 38 percent said they have pulled back on expansion plans, humanevents.com reports.