CHRISTIAN AGENCIES WILL NOT HAVE TO GIVE CHILDREN TO SAME-SEX COUPLES IN TEXAS
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a bill that protects Christian adoption agencies from being forced to place children in homosexual households. HB 3859, the Freedom to Serve Children Act, allows faith-based adoption and foster care organizations to receive state funding without fear of legal retribution for declining to place children in homosexual households. Other conscience objections such as placing children with single or divorced adults are also covered. “We are very grateful to Governor Abbott for signing HB 3859, that will allow faith-based adoption agencies in Texas to serve the children of Texas while maintaining our faith teachings,” said Jennifer Carr Allmon, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. “Our ministries in Texas are actively seeking new ways to be of service to Texan children and welcome all people of goodwill to join us in these endeavours.”
The Lone Star State joins South Dakota, which enacted a similar law in March, Alabama, Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia in passing laws protecting faith-based adoption agencies, U.S. News reported. The Supreme Court’s imposed legalization of homosexual “marriage” in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, combined with spreading “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” non-discrimination laws, has threatened the freedom of Catholic and religious adoption agencies to operate according to their own teachings. In Boston, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, Catholic adoption agencies closed themselves down rather than be forced by the state to put children in homosexual households. Robert Oscar Lopez, a leader in exposing the dangers of homosexual parenting as one who himself was raised by lesbians, hailed Abbott’s signing of HB 3589 as “wonderful news.”
Lopez, a Humanities professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that the new law will help “open up a national conversation” on the homosexual parenting issue. Lopez said the issue of homosexual adoption and “gay parenting” has been “poorly debated” by pro-family groups, who tend to fall back on the simple talking point, “Children need a mum and a dad,” because they are reluctant to discuss the special risks associated with homosexual led households. Even worse, after Obergefell, which stripped states of their right to preserve national marriage in the law, too many social conservatives gave up altogether arguing against homosexual adoption, he said. “We’ve never had a full national debate on gay parenting,” Lopez said. “There are very specific problems” with homosexual parenting because the adult homosexuals “are hooked into the LGBT community with all its problems.”
For example, he said, children in homosexual-led homes often “are dragged to salacious gay pride parades,” which are highly sexualized and vulgar, and therefore a very inappropriate environment for impressionable children. Lopez said HB 3589 will help save many kids from being placed in same-sex households because it frees up faith-based agencies to participate who were previously reluctant due to Obergefell and the encroachment of the LGBTQ agenda. “We don’t want to place children in these homes unless it is absolutely necessary, and it is almost never necessary,” he told LifeSiteNews. “It should be exceedingly rare, but gay activists want to make it common.” The pro-family group Texas Values hailed Gov. Abbott for signing HB 3589, which it called “a major victory for children and for religious liberty in Texas.”
“One-fourth of all foster care agencies in Texas are faith-based, but there has been a trend nationally of religious placement organizations closing as the result of being forced to deny their beliefs,” it said in a release. “Because of the crisis in state-run foster care, faith-based providers have been asked to do more to help care for foster children. Many faith-based providers want to do so, but before HB 3859, state law did not protect them from being targets of grant discrimination or litigation.” Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, said, “Texans are now free to recruit foster families and place children with loving families. HB 3859 ensures that there’s a place at the table for everyone at a time when Texas children need everyone at the table.”
The First Amendment is the most precious of all the rights in the Constitution. it’s a pity that Americans actually know so little about it. The First Amendment guarantees the right of Americans to say whatever they please, even the ugly and the irresponsible, but it does not guarantee there won’t be a price to pay for saying those things. The government can’t censor a playwright or his work, or the right of a theatre to perform his work, but there’s no constitutional right to require others to watch the performance or listen to the words. It’s a distinction sometimes overlooked. The producers of Manhattan’s “Shakespeare in the Park” learned this expensive lesson when two generous commercial sponsors, Delta Air Lines and the Bank of America, withdrew their sponsorship of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” adapted to portray the assassination of Donald Trump. The lesson will cost the producers millions.
There were predictable cries of “censorship,” but sponsors have no authority to censor anyone. Only governments can do that, either by shutting down the production or silencing it by a threat of shutdown, and that is what the First Amendment forbids. Individuals as well as institutions must defer to common standards of decency, too, where such standards have survived the trash culture, or pay the price. Two television talking heads learned this lesson in recent days. Reza Aslan, who has hosted a semi-religious program called “Believer” on CNN-TV, lost his gig after he called President Trump “a piece of excrement.” Mr. Aslan apologized for his rough language in expressing his “shock and frustration” at “the president’s lack of decorum,” but the network sacked him, anyway, not for having such an opinion, but for saying it out loud and on camera. CNN has sponsors to worry about, too.
Bill Maher, a comedian whose program “Real Time” on the HBO network is occasionally funny but usually merely a rant, offered an abject apology for saying the word “nigger” in a tasteless banter with Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican of Nebraska. “Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show,” Mr. Maher said, reflecting from his fainting and reflecting couch. “Last night was a particularly hard night.” Mr. Maher’s apology followed a similar apology from HBO, which called his use of the word, which all men and women of goodwill do not use, “inexcusable and tasteless.” It’s a word, like white trash, cracker, kike, spic, wop, pansy, rughead, that decent folk do not say, at least not in public. Those who do, risk paying for it, not in fines or jail time, but in the forfeiture of a good name.
Jokes and banter about assassinating the president of the United States have been off-colour, too, particularly since the Secret Service never chuckles or giggles on hearing them. But lately the Trump haters on the left have been flirting with assassination fantasies. They forget that while the First Amendment guarantees rough and even irresponsible speech, it does not require it. In a decent society, taste is the ultimate arbiter of what decent folk say to each other.
HALF OF IRAQI AND SYRIAN CHRISTIANS HAVE FLED THEIR HOMELANDS SINCE 2011
A new report prepared by three Christian advocacy groups has estimated that about 50 to 80% of Christians living in Iraq and Syria have been killed or have fled their respective countries since 2011. It has been estimated that there were over 300,000 Christians in Iraq in 2014, but the number has been reduced to 200,000-250,000. In Syria, the Christian population of around 2 million in 2011 has “roughly halved,” according to the report produced by Christian charities Open Doors, Served and Middle East Concern. The study noted that the Christians who are now residing elsewhere have “little incentive” to return to their homelands, with several interviewees saying, “the Middle East is no longer a home for Christians.” It stated that the arrival of Islamic State was only the “tipping point” for the displacement of Christians, who have experienced a “loss of hope for a safe and secure future.”
Among the factors offered by interviewees for leaving their homelands were the violence, the lack of employment and educational opportunities, the emigration of others and the consequent loss of community, and the near-complete destruction of some historically Christian towns. The report, titled “Understanding recent movements of Christians from Syria and Iraq to other countries across the Middle East and Europe,” further noted that most Christians have resettled in Lebanon while thousands of others are now residing in Jordan and Turkey. A smaller number of Christians have fled to European countries such as Sweden and Germany, but recent policy changes and living conditions have made it more difficult for refugees to stay in such countries.
A policy paper released along with the report has called on the European Union to establish an “accountability mechanism” to deal with grievances related to incidents of religious and ethnic persecution and discrimination in Iraq and Syria. While many nations have offered to take in Christian refugees fleeing the conflict in the Middle East, few have offered support to enable them to remain in their homeland. A notable exception is Hungary, which has donated five million euros to aid persecuted Christians in the region, according to Breitbart News. Last fall, it became the first country in the world to establish a government department that deals specifically with the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Europe. The charities that produced the report stated that “many” of those who remain in their homelands “want to play their part in rebuilding the shattered societies of Iraq and Syria.”
“They want to be seen as Iraqi or Syrian citizens, enjoying the full rights of citizenship, such as equality before the law and full protection of their right to freedom of religion or belief, including the ability for everyone to freely worship, practise, teach, choose and change their religion. They are not calling for special privileges as a religious minority,” the report noted.
Every day, Venezuela seems to be inching closer to a civil war. Protests between civilians and armed soldiers have persisted for three months, in which nearly 70 people have been killed and 1,300 injured. The conflict stems from President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to rewrite the constitution, as well as a failing economy. “I think Venezuela’s woes started with the previous leader, dictator Hugo Chavez,” Steve Shantz of Trans World Radio (TWR), an international mass media ministry, says. “Chavez had a socialist platform and really invested heavily in social projects. Of course, it was an oil-based economy, and Venezuela relied entirely on oil exports to fund their economy and never really invested in developing a solid industry inside the country.”
“So when oil prices collapsed, the money ran out, and Venezuela as a country is in a strong economic crisis. The power passed to the current leader, Maduro, when Chavez died of cancer, and he is trying to pursue the socialist agenda without the money and the funding to do it. This has resulted in food shortages and very, very severe economic problems in the country. There are no products available in the stores.” TWR is one organization working to provide peace amidst the turbulence. It has a transmitter on the nearby island country of Bonaire through which it broadcasts Gospel-centred programs throughout Venezuela. “We have to be very careful,” Shantz says. “We don’t want to have a political message. We want to bring a message of hope.”
“One of the groups we’re trying to bring hope to is children, and so we have a weekly program called ‘Peter the Octopus’, that we broadcast into Venezuela. And this is an octopus, he’s a puppet, and we try and speak values and hope and present a message of a brighter future for kids.” As food and basic necessities become increasingly scarce, TWR is also working to meet these children’s physical needs. “We go into the slum areas of the cities in Venezuela and hold children’s rallies,” Shantz explains. “In the past, we used to distribute textbooks and colouring books and crayons and things that the kids would like to have to play with and to use after the rallies. But what we’ve started to do now is we are to feeding them porridge, because the kids are only eating one meal a day.” Shantz asks for prayer for a political change in favour of the people and that they would find a relationship with God.
CALIFORNIAN JUDGE RULES AGAINST PROPONENTS OF ASSISTED SUICIDE
Life Legal attorneys appeared in court recently to challenge California’s assisted suicide law. They filed the lawsuit one year ago, shortly before the “End of Life Option Act” went into effect. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the Director of the California Department of Public Health, filed a motion to dismiss the case. The judge denied the motion to dismiss, which means the case moves forward! The End of Life Option Act strips vital legal protections from patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The Act does not require patients seeking so-called “aid-in-dying” drugs to undergo a mental health evaluation, even though the majority of individuals who receive a terminal diagnosis experience depression, anxiety, and other treatable mental health conditions that could lead them to seek suicide.
Life Legal is also concerned that the assisted suicide law has encouraged some physicians to set up niche clinics that only dispense prescriptions for lethal drugs. These physicians do not have any meaningful relationships with their patients apart from facilitating their deaths. Moreover, we have heard of numerous cases of individuals who have long outlived their “terminal” diagnoses. State-sanctioned suicide sends the message that some lives are not worth living. California law now pits the financial interests of health care providers, especially in cases where the provider and insurer are the same entity, against the needs of patients. We have heard of cases where insurance companies will pay for lethal drugs but not for life-prolonging treatment.
“The End of Life Option Act is a dangerous law that exposes vulnerable individuals to direct and indirect pressure to commit suicide. Life Legal represents hundreds of physicians who are committed to walking through life’s challenges as advocates for their patients, yet who are concerned that those patients could succumb to pressure from family, insurers, and other health care providers to cut their lives short,” said Life Legal Defence Foundation Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. “This ruling is confirmation that our claims have merit and deserve a fair hearing.” Life Legal Defence Foundation was established in 1989, and is a non-profit organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens committed to giving helpless and innocent human beings of any age, and their advocates, a trained and committed voice in the courtrooms of our nation.
BREAKING WITH TRADITION PRESIDENT TRUMP SKIPS RAMADAN DINNER
For the first time in nearly two decades, the White House decided to skip hosting the annual Eid al-Fitr dinner celebrating the end of Ramadan. The dinner began under the Clinton administration and continued through the Obama years. Instead, the president issued a statement wishing warm greetings to Muslims. “Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity. Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbours and breaking bread with people from all walks of life,” the statement read in part. Ramadan is considered the Muslim holy month, marked by prayer and fasting. Eid al-Fitr is the “break” to that fast.
As first reported in May, the State Department also rejected an offer to host a Ramadan Dinner. A State Department spokesperson said, “U.S. ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world.” When asked if the White House would follow suit, the questioner was directed to an earlier statement the president released about Ramadan. In that statement, President Trump gave his “best wishes for a blessed month.” He also pointed out the spirit of the holiday saying, “the spirit of Ramadan strengthens awareness of our shared obligation to reject violence, to pursue peace, and to give to those in need who are suffering from poverty or conflict.”