Anyone who has ever been in a Third World country, or even in a slum neighborhood at home, is likely to wonder why there can be such dire poverty among some people, while others are prospering.  Both politicians and intellectuals have tended to have simple answers to that question, even if these simple answers have been different in different eras.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a pair of cases involving the offering of prayers at county and school board meetings, continuing its decades-long tradition of steering clear of ruling on the supposed constitutionality of public prayers. According to BloombergNews.com, the High Court “hasn’t ruled on the constitutionality of prayer at government meetings since 1983, when the justices said lawmakers could begin sessions with nonsectarian prayers offered by a state-employed chaplain.”


 

While the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins crowed about a “consensus” vote for GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum at the special evangelical con-fab called in Texas to choose the Christian candidate preferred over Mitt Romney, not all the faithful were in agreement that Santorum has the intellectual and political prowess to defeat Barack Obama.

 

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum won the endorsement from a group of about 150 evangelical Christian leaders at a gathering in the Houston suburb of Brenham, Texas, Saturday, despite the former Pennsylvania Senator’s long history of supporting pro-abortion candidates for state and federal offices. Santorum, whose strong opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage helped him come within eight votes of GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses, has nonetheless been dogged by questions regarding his past support of staunch pro-abortion Republicans such as former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.

 

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is under fire in South Carolina for touting his alleged pro-life beliefs but voting to subsidize abortion and Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in America, while serving in the U.S. Senate. He has also backed pro-abortion candidates and voted for legislation that is being used to federally prosecute peaceful pro-life protesters who demonstrate outside of abortion clinics. Critics are outraged.

The once top-tier Republican candidate, who surged into the spotlight after an unexpected strong finish in Iowa before a disastrous showing in New Hampshire, defended himself against the attacks by lashing out at fellow GOP contender Rep. Ron Paul. He also argued that he voted for the unconstitutional appropriations — used for terminating pregnancies, lobbying against pro-life legislation, handing out birth control, and litigating to keep abortion legal — because they were part of bigger spending bills he supported.

A group called Iowans for Life first went after Santorum on the issue before the caucuses there, distributing fliers calling the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania a “Pro-Life Fraud.” The leaflets highlighted, among other points, the fact that Santorum had "a long and storied history of campaigning for radical pro-abortion candidates” such as former Sen. Arlen Specter — a Republican who later turned Democrat.

New York City police arrested 43 pastors and church members who used the occasion of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s January 12 State of the City speech to protest the city’s ban on the longtime practice of churches using public schools for worship services. The arrests occurred at the Bronx public school where Bloomberg was speaking.

 

What should America’s children and adolescents know about sex, homosexuality, “gender identity,” and contraception? As much as possible, according to a coalition of liberal educators, health professionals, and sex-ed “experts,” who have released a set of explicit recommendations they hope the nation’s schools will adopt as the new standards for sex education.

 

Crime victims, judges, and Mississippi residents in general are up in arms over the more than 200 pardons and clemencies issued by the state’s former Republican Governor, Haley Barbour, during the final days of his second term, which ended January 10. Altogether, reported the New York Times, Barbour “granted 203 full pardons over his two terms, including 17 to convicted murderers. He also granted 19 other criminals lesser degrees of clemency, like conditional suspensions of their sentences.” The bulk of the pardons were issued as Barbour prepared to leave office.

Calling it the “most significant religious liberty decision in two decades,” the New York Times announced the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the “ministerial exception” whereby churches and other religious organizations are exempt from governmental interference in their hiring and firing practices. In a unanimous 9-0 decision on January 11, the Court said that churches have an overriding “interest ... in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.”

The case started when a teacher at a Lutheran school in Redford, Michigan, was fired for threatening to sue the school over an alleged discrimination violation. Cheryl Perich was diagnosed with narcolepsy and took a leave of absence. When she tried to return, she learned that the school had hired someone else to take her place. When she threatened a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, she was fired for violating the church’s doctrine by pursuing litigation rather than trying to resolve the situation internally.
 
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) got involved and filed suit against the school. When the court ruled in favor of the school, the EEOC appealed. The appeals court reversed the decision, and the school took the case to the Supreme Court. At issue were core First Amendment rights: the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, to wit: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The government of Greece is catching flack over its decision to add some questionable categories to its list of recognized disabilities. As reported by the Associated Press, disability groups in the country were especially outraged over the government’s decision to add pedophiles to its list of those the state recognizes as disabled individuals. Among the other “disabled” categories added to the list were exhibitionists, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists, and sadomasochists.

 

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