The U.S House of Representatives voted 396-9 on November 1 to affirm “In God We Trust” as the official national motto of the United States. Reported the New York Times: “The resolution … is designed to clear up any confusion over the motto’s official status and to encourage schools and other public institutions to display it, said Representative J. Randy Forbes, Republican of Virginia and the measure’s sponsor.” Forbes explained that “what’s happened over the last several years is that we have had a number of confusing situations in which some who don’t like the motto have tried to convince people not to put it up.”
A Federal Communications Commission ruling on closed captioning of television programs could jeopardize the continued broadcast of shows produced by “some 300 small- to medium-sized churches,” according to Politico. At issue is whether or not these programs should be exempt from FCC requirements for closed captioning. “The Telecommunications Act of 1996 required the FCC to establish a suitable timetable by which television broadcasters and equipment manufacturers would be required to provide closed captioning,” explains the Christian Post. “The FCC required broadcasters to fulfill the closed captioning requirement by January 2006,” the report adds. However, the agency exempted certain religious broadcasters from the requirement under the so-called “Anglers Order,” named for the ministry, Anglers for Christ, that had requested the exemption.
A dozen nurses in New Jersey have filed a law suit against their employer, charging that they were forced to assist with abortions. According to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the conservative legal advocacy group representing the nurses, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) initiated a policy in September requiring that nurses serving in its Same Day Surgery Unit to assist with abortion procedures or face losing their jobs.
ADF noted that “federal law prohibits hospitals that receive certain federal funds from forcing employees to participate in abortions. UMDNJ receives approximately $60 million in federal funds annually. In addition, New Jersey law states, ‘No person shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion or sterilization.’”
On October 14 UMDNJ began scheduling nurses to go through training for assisting with abortion, with the trainees required to actually help out with the procedure. When one of the nurses objected to the requirement, explaining that abortion conflicted with her religious beliefs, a supervisor responded that the medical facility had “no regard for religious beliefs” of its employees, reported ADF.
It was a first last weekend, both for San Diego, California’s Patrick Henry High School and for the nation. On October 30, the school’s student body crowned self-described lesbian Rebeca Arellano their homecoming “king” at a school pep rally, naming Arellano’s “girlfriend” Haileigh Adams, also a student at the school, homecoming queen. The bizarre turn of events apparently marks the first time that a pair of homosexuals have been crowned royalty in the peculiarly American homecoming tradition.
“Thanks to every single one of you!” Arellano wrote on her Facebook page, according to ABC News. “You guys made this happen and we are all part of something huge. I can’t fully express how grateful I am. I am completely shocked that this happened.” Added Arellano of Adams, “My girl looks absolutely flawless.”
Predictably, the pair received overwhelming support both locally and nationally, with Arellano’s Facebook page covered with congratulations, reported ABC. Teachers at the school made sure their approval was apparent as well, with one teacher telling Arellano, “Today school is a bit better because of you girls.”
When news broke of two women making sexual harassment allegations against GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, the women's identities were kept confidential to protect their privacy. Days after the story broke, however, one of Cain’s accusers — frustrated because of Cain's constant denials of such inappropriate conduct — indicated that she wanted to come forward and tell her side of the story. Yesterday evening, however, the Washington Post reported, “Joel P. Bennett, a lawyer representing one of two women who made the claims against Cain, said Tuesday that his client is barred from publicly relating her side because of a non-disclosure agreement she signed upon leaving the National Restaurant Association, where Cain served as president from 1996 through 1999.”
On Sunday, Politico reported that during Cain’s tenure as president and CEO of the restaurant association, two women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them “angry and uncomfortable.” Reports indicate that the women ultimately left the restaurant association after they signed non-disclosure agreements and were given financial payouts to settle the matter.
The story almost immediately went viral, prompting often-inconsistent answers from the Cain campaign. Cain attempted to explain his inconsistencies by asserting that because a significant amount of time had passed, he could not remember the details of the charges lodged against him. “When I was initially hit with this … I didn’t recall it right away,” he told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham this morning, adding that he was “not changing the story but trying to fill as many details as I could possibly recall.”
What will the Arab Spring mean to Christians in the Arab world? Persecution of Christians in Muslim countries has been well documented; however, ominous signals are emerging of escalating violence against them — even in schools. Egyptian media reported that as a result of a fight over a classroom seat in a school in Malawi, Egypt, on October 16, a Christian student was killed.
The news source Copts Without Borders, which covers stories affecting Coptic Christians around the world, described the killing very differently, reporting that the student was murdered because he was a Coptic Christian wearing a crucifix. Activist Mark Ebeid acknowledged that this conclusion was reached reluctantly: “We wanted to believe the official version because the Coptic version was a catastrophe as it would take the persecution of Christians also to the schools.”
Parents of Ayman Nabil Labid, the slain Christian student, have broken their silence and confirmed that their son was killed "in cold blood because he refused to take off his crucifix as ordered by his Muslim teacher." Ayman’s father, Nabil Labid, noted that the boy also had a cross tattooed on his wrist, in keeping with Coptic traditions, as well as another cross which he wore under his clothing.
Ayman’s classmates, who were at the hospital where Ayman was taken and at his funeral, told his parents what they had seen in the room when the attack occurred. They recounted that Ayman was told to cover his wrist tattoo. His mother continued: “The teacher nearly choked my son and some Muslim students joined in the beating.”
A three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled that it is permissible for the state to acknowledge its dependence upon God. The decision overturns a 2009 lower court ruling that a state law requiring the acknowledgement of God “created an official government position on God.”
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Kentucky state lawmakers issued a legislative “finding” that “the safety and security of the commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance on Almighty God.” And in 2006, as it passed legislation creating the state Office of Homeland Security, the legislature included a requirement that the executive director acknowledge “dependence on Almighty God” in training manuals and on a plaque at the entrance to the department’s headquarters.
In 2008, after a group of individuals challenged the legislation in a lawsuit, 35 of Kentucky’s 38 state senators and 96 of its 100 state representatives signed friend-of-the-court briefs defending the law.
After initially claiming it would not execute a minister for converting from Islam to Christianity, the Iranian government is — in the words of one analyst — engaging in a “variety of tactics in an effort to neutralize a situation that has called into question its flaunted commitment to religious freedom.”
In an article (“Deny, Deceive, Discredit: Iranians Try Range of Tactics to Resolve Apostasy Case”) CNSNews writer Patrick Goodenough observes that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s conviction — and looming execution — for "apostasy" from Islam to Christianity led to an avalanche of letters of support pouring into Iran’s diplomatic missions. However, according to Goodenough, the Iranian government has attempted to sow confusion regarding Nadarkhani’s case, by spreading disinformation regarding the actual charges leveled against him:
Nadarkhani, who embraced Christianity aged 19, was sentenced to death late last year for apostasy. Last July the Supreme Court considering his appeal ordered the sentencing court to reexamine whether he had been a practicing Muslim at the time of conversion. “If it can be proved that he was a practicing Muslim as an adult and has not repented, the execution will be carried out,” the ruling stated.
Back before the lower court in his home province of Gilan, Nadarkhani was asked repeatedly to renounce his faith, and refused.
A candy wholesaler is targeting kids with a new product line: lollipops, gummy sours, and ring pops shaped like marijuana leaves. While the manufacturer says the candy, aptly named Potheads, is selling well so far, the trend has some community leaders upset.
“We spot trends that are in the marketplace and we make products to capitalize on those trends,” the candy's distributor, Andrew Kalan was quoted by CBN News as saying. He said that although the target market for Potheads is obviously children, he isn’t overly worried that the candy will lead kids to actually start smoking pot. He added that whatever the case, he is well within his rights to sell the product. “I don’t personally view candy as a gateway drug,” he said. “They’re expressing a political position and it’s a First Amendment right.”
CBN reported that in Buffalo, N.Y., business leaders were outraged by the appearance of Potheads in local stores. “To make a product like that appealing to young adults, knowing the consequences just boggles the mind,” said Fred Merukeb of the Arab-American Business Association.
In fact, some community leaders have begun a campaign to pressure stores to stop carrying the candy. “People need to know that any store that we learn of this disrespect and immorality, will be dealt with swiftly by whatever measures necessary, warned one Buffalo community activist, Charley Fisher III.
Shareholders of PepsiCo have filed a resolution with the Securities and Exchange Commission in an effort to force the company to stop contracting with a research firm that uses cells from aborted babies in its process of producing artificial flavor enhancers. According to LifeNews.com, Pepsi has “ignored concerns and criticism from dozens of pro-life groups and tens of thousands of pro-life people who voiced their opposition to PepsiCo contracting with biotech company Senomyx even after it was found to be testing their food additives using fetal cells from abortions.”
On its website Senomyx explains that its flavor research programs “focus on the discovery and development of savory, sweet and salt flavor ingredients that are intended to allow for the reduction of MSG, sugar and salt in food and beverage products. Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.”
But Debi Vinnedge of Children of God for Life, a pro-life group that has focused its attention on Pepsi’s relationship with Senomyx, pointed out that what the company does not reveal is that it is “using HEK293 — human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors. They could have easily chosen animal, insect, or other morally obtained human cells expressing the G protein for taste receptors.”