A Michigan high school canceled a speech by former Sen. Rick Santorum after teachers became outraged over his opposition to gay marriage and threatened to stage protests and a possible work stoppage, Fox News reports. Santorum had been invited to deliver an upcoming speech on leadership by the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at Gross Pointe South High School. But the speech was canceled on Monday after the school district’s superintendent heard from angry teachers. “It’s a sad day when liberal educators are allowed to influence young minds—extending free speech rights only to those who share their liberal views,” Santorum said in a statement posted on Patriot Voices. “This has nothing to do with the content of a speech, but rather the context of my convictions.” Thomas Harwood, superintendent of the Gross Pointe Public School System, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Other news:

  • Private religious schools perform better than public schools, and public charter schools perform no better than regular public schools, according to a new study by William Jeynes, professor of education at California State University at Long Beach and senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute at Princeton. Jeynes spoke Monday with The Christian Post about the study. He found that religious, mostly Christian, school students were a full year ahead of students who attend public and charter schools. The results of his research were recently published in vol. 87, issue 3 of the Peabody Journal of Education in an article titled, “A Meta-Analysis on the Effects and Contributions of Public, Public Charter, and Religious Schools on Student Outcomes,” and were presented last month in a speech for Notre Dame University faculty.
  • California lawmakers are considering taking some tax exemptions away from youth groups that do not accept gay, transgender, or atheist members—a move intended to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on gay Scouts and troop leaders, news.yahoo.com reports. Some cities have withdrawn free rent and other subsidies from the Boy Scouts over the years, but legislation introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara would make California the first state to target the Scouts for its anti-gay policy. The Long Beach Democrat’s bill, SB 323, was scheduled for its first committee hearing on Wednesday. The Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed the Texas-based organization’s ban on openly gay members last summer, then announced in January that it was revisiting the decision. Churches that sponsor Boy Scouts troops would not lose their underlying tax-exempt status, but an array of nonprofits, ranging from the Young Men’s Christian Association and Pop Warner football to the American Youth Soccer Association and 4-H clubs, would have their tax returns and membership policies scrutinized by the state Franchise Tax Board, according to an analysis by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. As a tax measure, the bill requires a two-thirds vote instead of a simple majority from both houses of the Legislature and the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown to become law. “We would consider all legal options, including litigation, should SB 323 be enacted, but right now we are focusing on the legislative front,” Pacific Justice Institute staff attorney Matthew McReynolds said. “We’re not convinced that moderates will support, or the governor will sign, a tax increase that targets organizations based on ideology.” The institute and other legal aid groups that represent religious conservatives have cautioned lawmakers that the measure conflicts with a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of private groups such as the Boy Scouts to exclude gays and lesbians from serving as adult leaders. “SB 323’s primary purpose is to penalize BSA based on its constitutionally protected membership policy and the values that underlie it,” lawyers for the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom wrote in a letter to lawmakers last week. “This type of targeted punishment of a group based on how it exercises its associational and free speech rights violates the First Amendment.”
  • Much of the U.S. might be embracing gay marriage, but the Oklahoma legislature isn’t going along—and it wants the U.S. Supreme Court to notice, Baptist Press reports. By a vote of 84-0, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a resolution Monday supporting traditional marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which is before the court. The vote highlights the geographical divide over gay marriage. The South and the nation’s heartland tend to have more conservative positions on the issue, while the Northeast and West Coast states have more liberal beliefs. “The Oklahoma Legislature reaffirms its commitment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman and urges the United States Supreme Court to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and the right of states to regulate marriage,” the resolution reads. Although there were no votes opposing the resolution, about half of the Democrats—including Minority Leader Scott Inman—walked out prior to the vote, according to the Associated Press. But the other half of the Democratic caucus stayed and supported it. Republicans control the chamber.
  • Last week a group of pro-life activists with the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform displayed large graphic images of aborted babies outside the State Capitol building in Juneau. And in response to “complaints” about the pictures, some state employees ordered state vehicles to park in front of the signs, thus completely blocking them from public view, lifenews.com reports. Some bureaucrats physically attacked the pro-lifers as well. Speaking on the Senate floor, Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla) pulled no punches in a response: “These protesters were not yelling and screaming. They were not saying anything. They were standing there silently. Yet we had several vans—state of Alaska vans—park in front of those protesters. We had one of the protesters—it’s on the video—that was manhandled. This is an outrage.” Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell voiced his strong support on behalf of the pro-life activists’ constitutional rights: “It was totally inappropriate that employees of the Department of Administration, the Court System and the Legislature were involved in parking state vehicles in front of the peacefully assembled demonstrators, who were violating no state law. I do not condone infringing on Alaskans’ constitutional liberties. I have given direction to the Department of Administration to ensure this does not happen in the future unless public safety is at risk or the rule of law violated. I urge the Legislature and the Court System to do the same for their employees.”
  • The Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Ark., has in the last minute been spared a demise at the last moment, onenewsnow.com reports. Kent Butler, assistant executive director for the Passion Play, said, “In 2012, we thought we were going to shut down. We needed help, asked for it, and it just didn’t come. In December, we announced we were closing our doors. We had no money to pay the bills and no way to get what we needed. On December 4, we sent out a press release announcing the end of our ministry. On December 20, Randall Christy of the Gospel Station Network used his 25 radio stations to help us out. With his help, we raised $25,000. It was funny because everyone [that is, the Mayan calendar crowd] thought the world was going to end in December. But our little corner of the world was being saved.” As the new year rolled in with fireworks and parties, new life was breathed into the 45-year-old ministry. Butler said, “God did a miracle at the last moment possible. He let us know that it was Him and not us. It reminded us that everything we do here is for Him and to Him.” What seemed like a death sentence turned into a new lease on life. “We make the Scriptures come alive,” Butler said. Considering that the Great Passion Play, a live stage production about the last week of Jesus’ life, involves 170 people, dozens of birds, sheep, camels, horses and other animals, “coming alive” is an understatement. The stage itself is a larger-than-life, 550-foot, three-level behemoth the size of two football fields with seating for 4,000 people. But it’s not the number of people in the crowds that impresses Butler. It is how differently God speaks to each one: “During every performance, we ask the audience to write prayer requests. Two years ago, a family came to see the play with their son and asked us to pray for him. He was raised in a Christian home, but was living in rebellion. During the 2012 summer, the son came back to the play on his own. Before, he was only here because his parents made him join them. This time he came because he genuinely wanted to be there. While he was here, we got to hear part of his story,” Butler said. “He said he now has an intimate and fruitful relationship with Jesus Christ. He credited the play with helping plant that seed of repentance in him. He thanked us for the work we do because it encouraged his parents. They were at the point of giving up and didn’t know what to do next. He said the play encouraged them that God is still a God of miracles, and that young man is living proof of that.” The statue of Jesus and the play may be the biggest things in the area, but they are nowhere close to being the only things. “We hate to call these attractions,” Butler said, “because they really are more than that. They are really more like arms of ministry.”
  • President Obama’s new budget has opened a debate over what it means to be a progressive Democrat in an age of austerity and defines him as a president willing to take on the two pillars of his party, Medicare and Social Security—created by Democratic presidents, nytimes.com reports. By his gamble on Wednesday in proposing budgetary concessions to Republicans on Social Security, the 1935 creation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Medicare, the legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Obama has provoked angry supporters on his left to ask whether he is a progressive at all. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. president, Richard Trumka, in a blistering statement, called the proposed changes “wrong and indefensible.” An e-mail from Representative Alan Grayson, a liberal from Florida, was headlined “President’s Budget Breaks Promise to Seniors.” Meanwhile, cnsnews.com reports that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) released a report documenting attempted abuses of federal power by the Obama administration on Tuesday, saying the administration “knows virtually no bounds.” Cruz points to Obama’s own Supreme Court appointees, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, to make his case: “When President Obama’s own Supreme Court nominees join their colleagues in unanimously rejecting the Administration’s call for broader federal power six times in just over one year, the inescapable conclusion is that the Obama Administration’s view of federal power knows virtually no bounds,” the senator’s report said. The Obama administration’s over-reaching includes attempts to electronically track Americans without cause and deny churches the right to choose their own ministers. Cruz, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, said the cases “demonstrate an astonishing view of federal power on behalf of the Obama Administration. If the Department of Justice had won these cases, the federal government would be able to electronically track all of our movements, fine us without a fair hearing, dictate who churches choose as ministers, displace state laws based on the President’s whims, bring debilitating lawsuits against individuals based on events that occurred years ago, and destroy a person’s private property without just compensation.”
  • Commentator Erick Erickson is warning that the Toomey-Manchin proposal would have potentially serious consequences, redstate.com reports. “The proposal will allow a doctor to add a patient to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) without ever telling the patient he or she has been added. There would be no due process requirement. Not all doctors will be able to do it with the same ease, but many will. Knowing a doctor could add him to a federal database as mentally ill without his knowledge could potentially dissuade a patient from going to the doctor in the first place to get help. Worse, if the doctor does so and makes a mistake, the patient would have to actively work through the system to get himself removed—guilty before being proven innocent. In some states, should a doctor flag you as having mental illness without your knowledge, you may very well see the state come collect your previously purchased guns. Activist mental health providers will probably be overly aggressive in adding people to the list. Give it five years in liberal areas and people who believe in the physical resurrection of Christ will probably get automatic entry onto the list. Mental health is a serious issue and the Toomey-Manchin legislation could have negative consequences. Worse, it would still not stop a Columbine, a Newtown, or the daily massacres in Chicago.”
  • President Barack Obama has done everything possible, legal and illegal, to allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. He has given directives to the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to not deport illegals unless they have a prior criminal record. Otherwise, he has welcomed them with open arms and has offered them more than he’s given to American citizens. At the same time he’s allowing millions to stay, he is also working hard to deport one specific family, Christians who only want to homeschool their six children, godfatherpolitics.com reports. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike sought asylum in the United States because their native Germany has outlawed homeschooling. When their kids did attend public school, they were harassed and bullied because they were Christians and the schools did nothing to prevent it. At one point, the German authorities took the children from the parents and fined them thousands of euros. In 2010, they applied for political asylum in America, the land of the free. A U.S. immigration judge ruled that they were in fact facing persecution from the German government and granted them political asylum in the U.S. The family moved and settled in Tennessee. However, the Obama administration is doing everything in their power to rescind the political asylum status and force the family to return to Germany. The White House and Justice Department are so adamant about deporting a Christian family that the case is about to be heard before the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The family is being represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association. Founder of HSLDA Michael Farris commented, “The Obama administration is basically saying there is no right to home school anywhere. It’s an utter repudiation of parental liberty and religious liberty. They are trying to send a family back to Germany where they would certainly lose custody of their children. Our government is siding with Germany. Eleven million people are going to be allowed to stay freely—but this one family is going to be shipped back to Germany to be persecuted. It just doesn’t make any sense. Romeike told reporters: “If we go back to Germany we know that we would be prosecuted and it is very likely the Social Services authorities would take our children from us. The German schools teach against our Christian values.”
  • Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a suit against a florist who refused to serve as the flower supplier for a same-sex wedding, washingtontimes.com reports. Gay marriage was legalized and went into effect in 2012, and hundreds of gay couples have filed for marriage licenses. The law is now being tested in a case that pits the state against Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts owner Barronelle Stutzman of Richland, Wash. Stutzman said in a March interview with KEPR that she turned down a customer’s request to supply his same-sex wedding ceremony with flowers because of religious reasons. The man, Robert Ingersoll, was a 10-year customer of the shop, she told KEPR. “[Mr. Ingersoll] said he decided to get married and before he got through, I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.’ We hugged each other and he left, and I assumed it was the end of the story,” she said to KEPR. But it wasn’t. Mr. Ingersoll and partner Curt Reed took to the online community to tell their flower-shop refusal—and that’s when the attorney general’s office got involved. Attorneys for Ms. Stutzman said they are fully prepared for a legal fight.