Gov. Scott Walker easily survived his recall election brought on by organized labor in Wisconsin on Tuesday by winning 54 percent of the vote against his Democrat rival, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who came away with 45 percent, reports The Christian Post. “First of all, . . . I want to thank God for His abundant grace. Next, I particularly want to thank not only all of you here, but people all across the state. I want to thank you for your prayers,” Walker told supporters. It was the third time in the nation’s history that a sitting governor had to face a recall vote, and the election was not confined to Wisconsin, as groups on both sides of the issue saw the race as a preview of what may happen in November. Although the contest was bitter from beginning to end, Walker offered a conciliatory tone in his remarks when declaring victory. “The election is over. It’s time to move Wisconsin forward,” Walker told the crowd gathered at his headquarters. “Tomorrow we are all Wisconsinites.” But Barrett’s concession comments were less than subtle as he told his supporters to “remain engaged.” “We will continue to fight,” said Barrett. The recall process began soon after Walker and the Republican controlled legislature passed laws that gave cities and school districts the ability to negotiate collective bargaining agreements with labor unions as an effort to cut an estimated $3.6 billion from their budgets. This infuriated the unions that resulted in them obtaining enough signatures to force the recall vote. Many saw the election as a litmus test of union strength going into the fall elections. Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP nominee, quickly weighed in on the election results in his hopes of winning Wisconsin in November against President Obama, who handily won the state in 2008. “Governor Walker has demonstrated over the past year what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around, and I believe that in November voters across the country will demonstrate that they want the same in Washington,” Romney said in a statement. CNSNews reports that an exit poll showed that Walker got 38 percent of the vote from people living in union households.
- An Army chaplain has performed the first same-sex nuptial ceremony on a military base—one involving two lesbian soldiers, reports cnsnews.com. A Disciples of Christ chaplain performed a “marriage-like” commitment ceremony for the two lesbian soldiers. The ceremony took place in Louisiana, a state where same-sex marriage is not legal, so it is being described as a “religious” ceremony only. Rep. John Fleming, M.D. (R-La.), told CNSNews.com on Wednesday that the U.S. Army had confirmed to him that the chaplain had performed the ceremony less than a month ago in the base chapel at Fort Polk, which is in Fleming’s district. “It is my understanding that this is the first ceremony of its type on an American military base and that is, as it’s reported, it was a wedding ceremony between two members of the same gender who are uniformed members of the Army,” Fleming said in an interview with CNSNews. Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), chairman of the Seapower & Projection Forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, blasted the military for allowing the ceremony to be held in a military chapel. “It is very concerning that a same-sex ceremony would occur on a military base in a state where the definition of marriage has been clearly defined as between one man and one woman,” Akin said. In a statement, Akin wondered whether the action violates the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which was recently overturned by a judge in San Francisco. “This appears to be a case where a political agenda has trumped the rule of law, which is absolutely unacceptable,” Akin said.
- An advocacy group for parents is expressing concern about how addiction to video games and online pornography is contributing to the downfall of young males. CNN recently featured a commentary on its website from authors of a new book called The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It. They say video games and porn create “arousal addictions.” And Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education with the Parents Television Council, told OneNewsNow that research backs that up. “What researchers have found is that they trigger the pleasure centers of the brain and cause the release of dopamine,” she details. “So, in effect, it is creating the same sort of addiction that you would experience with a narcotic.” And some businesses, she explains, are taking advantage of vulnerable males. “The people in the pornography industry have a business model set up where they give you a certain amount to get you hooked, and then they make you pay for the rest,” says Henson. “So they’re becoming immensely wealthy by creating and feeding on these addictions.” The PTC communications director laments that these video and porn addictions are prohibiting a generation of guys from taking the next step toward manhood. “What we’re seeing is that they are developing an inability to create monogamous, committed relationships with real, live women,” she notes. “They are unable to function well in the work place, [and] they’re falling behind academically.” She says these addictions are hurting men in ways many fail to recognize.
- Families of deceased veterans were shocked and angry last year when religious references were banned from funeral rituals and a Memorial Day service at Houston National Cemetery. A lawsuit eventually resolved the matter, but a House bill would enshrine in law the lessons learned from that isolated incident. Such protections already exist as a result of the lawsuit and Bush-era policies that protect families’ free exercise of religion at military funerals. However, the bill filed by Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, would spell out families’ rights to religious expression while curtailing the government’s role, reports The Washington Post. Veteran funeral services are held at no cost to families and are offered in any of 131 national cemeteries maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veteran service organizations often attend at the request of families to perform memorial rites. Under current law, honor guards are prohibited from participating in religious rituals except as requested by families. Problems arose in Houston when the cemetery director misinterpreted this law to prohibit all religious speech. Though the Houston dispute was rectified, Culberson and the conservative Christian law firm Liberty Institute want an ironclad legal protection for grieving families. “This was all about the government not being neutral, but being anti-religious, hostile,” Liberty Institute president Kelly Shackelford said.
- DoersTV.com chief executive Pastor David Wright polled his channel’s more than 100,000 Facebook fans to find out what they think of Christian TV, and he was more than a little surprised by the results, reports christiantoday.com. Pastor Wright was shocked to discover that the vast majority said they hate Christian TV and do not watch it. He said that 90 percent of the feedback to his poll was negative. Comments in the response posts indicated several major turn-offs when it comes to Christian TV: Too much begging for money and fund-raising telethons; false prosperity teachers manipulating people for offerings; boring and a lack of quality programming; lack of integrity of Christian leaders being broadcast. Pastor Wright said he was “flabbergasted” by the responses. “I kind of expected there would be those Christians who thought Christian TV was too boring or not relevant for the times, but I never would have imagined the disdain thousands of Christians have for Christian TV,” he said. “Unfortunately, the greed for money has replaced the need for ministry among many of our ministers and Christian TV networks. People are fed up with the lust for material things.” He added that a lack of integrity among pastors and leaders of today has played a major role in the negative perception of Christian TV. “We can’t have pastors indulging in sin and expect people not to be turned off,” he said.
- The NAACP’s announcement supporting President Obama’s position on same-sex marriage has led to the resignation of one of its leaders, reports The Christian Post. The Rev. Keith Ratliff, who serves as president of the NAACP’s Iowa-Nebraska conference and also pastors Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, said in a statement that he was leaving “due to the NAACP’s position and support of same-sex marriage.” Ratliff’s reaction to the same-sex marriage issue is not the first time black pastors have publicly stated their opposition to the issue, instead voicing their support for traditional marriage. Pastor Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Church in Washington State, has long stood for the Biblical view of marriage and has been harshly criticized by both black and white liberals over his stance. He is also supportive of Ratliff’s decision to resign. “It’s about time someone associated with the NAACP has a backbone,” Hutcherson told The Christian Post. “The NAACP is so far behind the times, not only on the biblical view of marriage, but because they still use the term ‘colored people’ to describe black Americans,” said Hutcherson. “Plus, the group is ‘bought and paid for’ by the Democratic Party and they no longer speak for the majority of black citizens in the country.” The Coalition of African American Pastors also took a stand for traditional marriage by asking President Obama to reconsider his position, saying that a growing percentage of black Christian voters felt betrayed by his public statement on the issue. Ratliff has long expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage. He has been a fixture at pro-family rallies throughout the Midwest and supported amending the Iowa Constitution to define marriage between a man and a woman after the landmark state Supreme Court ruling in April 2009 that gave legal status to civil marriages of same-sex couples.
- Authorities are on high alert in Johnson County, Ind., after more than a dozen churches were burglarized over the past several weeks, reports wishtv.com. The thieves have been making off with expensive instruments, electronics, tools, and cash. Pastor Jeff Souders of Franklin Christian Fellowship Church said he has already forgiven those who broke into his church late Sunday night. “They just opened all the drawers and went through all of our cabinets and went through all of our closets and didn’t find anything. We don’t usually keep money here except for the pop machine,” Souders said. The thieves stole $400 and caused hundreds more in damage. It is not an isolated incident. In the past several weeks in Johnson County, 16 churches have been broken into, and Sheriff Doug Cox said investigators believe the break-ins are connected. The burglars have most often used a crowbar to pry open doors and windows. “We’ll have an occasional church burglary, but nothing like were experiencing right now,” Cox said. The sheriff said he has already increased patrols around churches. Investigators are also asking the public to report any suspicious activities around churches. Both Cox and Souders said churches are easy targets because many lack updated security measures. “We’re not fortresses,” Souders said. “We are welcoming communities. We’re communities that want to reach out and not build up walls. It makes us an easy target.”
- A Christian-based legal defense alliance is warning Americans who already believe that President Barack Obama’s health care plan is a bad idea that the “ObamaCare mandate is worse than you think.” “Everyone likes a good surprise, but no one likes a bad surprise. So, you’re really not going to like the surprises buried in the 2,700 pages of this document,” says the narrator of a short video produced by the Alliance Defense Fund. “Did you know that with ObamaCare you will have to pay for life-saving drugs, but life-ending drugs are free. One hundred percent free. If this plan were really about health care wouldn’t it be the other way around?” ADF lawyer Matt Bowman told The Christian Post Tuesday that the new campaign against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) is an effort to reveal more details about the health care plan that may not be as well known. “We wanted to raise awareness that Americans are not subjects. ObamaCare treats Americans as subjects instead of citizens of a free country,” Bowman argued. “There are extremely alarming attacks on religious freedom and sanctity of human life.” While Obama continues to tout his plan, even embracing the term “ObamaCare,” it’s not clear whether the mandate will still exist by the November election. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments earlier this year for a set of cases challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. After the hearings, most court watchers believed that the most likely outcome is that the court will strike down the individual mandate, a central feature of the law. Plus, if the court strikes down the individual mandate, it could strike down the entire law, when it delivers its opinion, arguing that the mandate is too central to the law to leave the rest intact. The White House has said that there is no “plan B” in place if the Supreme Court declares that the law is unconstitutional. ADF is not leaving anything to chance and continues to fight aggressively against the mandate. “Did you know you may be forced to pay an abortion premium directly from your paycheck to cover all types of elective abortions? It’s a dollar or more a month, which may not sound like much, but let’s just do some simple math. Say just half of American workers are forced to pay a dollar each month, that’s $924,000,000 all funneled into an abortion on-demand fund each year,” the narrator in the ADF video points out. “That translates to more than two million elective abortions that you have been forced to help fund.” The law group states on its website that it is on the “front lines of the legal battle against ObamaCare.” “Never in America’s 236-year history has there been a more serious assault on your religious freedom. Together, we must stop the ObamaCare mandate and stand up for our God-given freedom of conscience and religious liberty.”
- A funeral was held Tuesday for a young missionary couple who died over the weekend in a tragic plane crash in Zambia, reports The Christian Post. The cause is unknown. Gordon Hanna, a missionary and administrator of the Chitokoloki Mission Hospital, has been posting daily updates to the hospital’s website ever since his friends and colleagues, Jay and Katrina Erickson, were killed late Saturday afternoon. The plane crashed into the Zambezi River during a return trip to the hospital after dropping off a nurse in another town. After the plane went down, the hospital was notified and several people rushed to the river only to find that the plane had been completely submerged when they arrived. They tried to obtain a boat with an engine so they could search for the crash site, but stopped searching that evening when it began to get dark. “We feel absolutely distraught and completely overwhelmed with sadness, agony and grief over this and so helpless that we could not do something more,” wrote Hanna. When they returned to the mission that night, he says, they found Christians gathered at the site’s church building “singing quietly and expressing their sympathy in the traditional way.” The next day, after several hours of searching, they located the aircraft. Zambia air force divers and other officials showed up afterward, and were able to recover the couple’s bodies. Sadly, the trip was the first one Katrina had taken with her husband since they began serving at the station several months ago. Their two daughters, 2-year-old Marina and 1-year-old Coral, stayed behind at the hospital while their parents took the flight. Jay and Katrina Erickson, both in their late 20s, were serving as full-time volunteers at the hospital, where she played a number of roles and he transported medical supplies, food, doctors, nurses, missionaries, and more in the hospital’s Cessna 206 plane.
- Two suicide bombers from the Boko Haram Islamist sect drove a car laden with bombs into the worship service of a Church of Christ in Nigeria congregation, killing at least one Christian and injuring dozens of other church members, reports Compass Direct News. A man claiming to be a spokesman for Boko Haram reportedly claimed responsibility for the blast. The two suicide bombers broke through a security barrier at the gate of the church building at 7:20 a.m., a church leader said. “When the bombs went off, I saw the dead body of one girl and four other members of our church who were injured,” said Yakubu Dutse, director of finance at COCIN headquarters, which is located in the same building.
- The Boy Scouts of America scrambled Thursday to make clear that whatever happened at its recent meeting in Orlando, Fla., there is no move to change its policy banning gays and lesbians from membership, reports The Dallas Morning News. “Scouting has never been a social change organization,” said Deron Smith, a spokesman in the Scouts’ national office in Irving. Smith said two events at the Scouts’ annual business meeting last week created the perception that the 101-year-old youth organization is on the road to changing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevents openly gay and lesbian adults from leadership positions. First, a voting member submitted a resolution calling for the national scouting office to leave it up to 290 local Scout councils across the nation to decide whether to allow openly gay and lesbian adults to be den leaders or troop leaders. Smith said Scout bylaws allowed the voting member to submit the resolution for consideration, but that doesn’t mean anyone is considering changing the policy. “There is a vast difference between accepting a resolution because our bylaws require it and considering a policy change,” he said. Also, Scout leaders last week accepted a petition containing 275,000 signatures of people who want them to change the ban on gay leaders. The petition drive began in March after Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom of a 7-year-old Cub Scout in Ohio, was removed from a den leader position. Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and son of a lesbian couple, presented the petition to Scout leaders in a private meeting during the Orlando conference. “Zach is a nice young man and out of respect for differing opinions, we sat down with him and had a discussion,” Smith said. “But I can tell you that a vast majority of our members support the current policy.” The flurry of publicity surrounding the ouster in Ohio was just dying down when the new round of stories erupted this week.
- A group of international scientists is sounding a global alarm, warning that population growth, climate change, and environmental destruction are pushing Earth toward calamitous—and irreversible—biological changes, reports latimes.com. In a paper published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature, 22 researchers from a variety of fields liken the human impact to global events eons ago that caused mass extinctions, permanently altering Earth’s biosphere. “Humans are now forcing another such transition, with the potential to transform Earth rapidly and irreversibly into a state unknown in human experience,” wrote the authors, who are from the U.S., Europe, Canada and South America. If current trends continue—exploding global population, rapidly rising temperatures, and the clearance of more than 40 percent of Earth’s surface for urban development or agriculture—the planet could reach a tipping point, they say. “The net effects of what we’re causing could actually be equivalent to an asteroid striking the Earth in a worst-case scenario,” the paper’s lead author, Anthony Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, said in an interview. “I don’t want to sound like Armageddon. I think the point to be made is that if we just ignore all the warning signs of how we’re changing the Earth, the scenario of losses of biodiversity—75% or more—is not an outlandish scenario at all.”
- JC Penney’s June catalog includes a pro-homosexual ad, showing two men on the floor playing with and hugging their two children at home, warns The American Family Association. It reads, “First Pals – What makes Dad so cool? He’s the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver—all rolled into one. Or two. Real-life dads Todd Koch and Cooper Smith with their children Claire and Mason.” The AFA noted, “It is well established that James Cash Penney, the founder of the J.C. Penney Company (JCP), was a Christian who lived his life and ran his business by the principles of God’s Word. Sadly, the re-imagining of the present-day J.C. Penney Company indicates a departure from biblical moorings and Mr. Penney’s leadership by taking sides in the cultural war in celebration of homosexuality.” The AFA urged citizens to contact the company, protesting this development.