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September 30, 2011

Infanticide

In April 2005, Katrina Effert, age nineteen, secretly gave birth to a baby boy in the downstairs bathroom. She then strangled the child, wrapped him in towels, and dropped him over the backyard fence behind a neighbor’s shed. After repeatedly lying to police and trying to pin the crime on a man she hooked up with nine months earlier, Effert finally confessed to killing the child, whom she named Rodney. In 2006 and again in 2009 juries convicted her of second-degree murder with a minimum of ten years in prison. Earlier this month the same judge who presided over Effert’s trial in 2009 changed the conviction to infanticide and sentenced her to a three-year suspended sentence with probation.

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September 30, 2011

Richard Dawkins calls for evolution to be taught to children from age five

Children in the UK should be taught the science of evolution by natural selection from the age of five, says Prof Richard Dawkins. The Oxford biologist argues that evolution is so important to our understanding of the world that it should form part of the primary school curriculum. He is dismissive of the notion that evolution is a difficult concept for young children to grasp. "Evolution is a truly satisfying and complete explanation of existence, and I suspect that this is something a child can appreciate from an early age," he writes in the Times.

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September 29, 2011

Congress Seeks Planned Parenthood Investigation

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has until the end of this week to hand over 12 years’ worth of documentation on how it’s spent taxpayer money, as the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Investigations calls for an accounting. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., wrote PPFA on Sept. 15, detailing concerns about how the group spends federal grant money and how it reports sex crimes. PPFA has an “extensive record of violating state sexual assault and child abuse reporting laws, and of encouraging young girls to lie about their ages,? Stearns said in a statement.

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September 29, 2011

You Thought You Were Only Shopping

Chuck Colson Imagine that your laptop finally gives up the ghost. You have several options: You can drive to the store and buy a new one, or you can shop online. If you choose the latter, you have another option: You can buy it from an online retailer, or you can connect to a retailer via a portal. Why? Because some portals, like CGBG, split its share of the profits with a charity of your choice. It’s as close as shopping gets to “win-win? in our consumerist culture. That is, of course, until someone objects to the charities who are receiving a share of the profits. And you won’t be surprised at who is making the objections.

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September 29, 2011

Study: Change Is Possible for Homosexuals

For the first time in a decade, a study showing sexual orientation change is possible for some homosexuals has been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The October issue of the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy contains a longitudinal study of Christians seeking help from ministries associated with Exodus International for their unwanted same-sex attractions. Of the 98 subjects, more than half were reported as successful; 23 percent reported a complete change in orientation after six years. Also, 20 percent reported giving up the struggle to change.

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September 28, 2011

Religious Exemptions Under Fire in Health Care Coverage

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wraps up a public comment period Friday on a new interim rule requiring nearly all private health plans to cover contraception, sterilization and possible abortifacients as free “preventive? care for women. If the rule is adopted, insurers would be forced to cover all methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration — including so-called emergency contraception pills — and individuals who object to them on moral and religious grounds would be forced to subsidize them.

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September 27, 2011

The Denizens of Gucci Gulch

At the end of the most recent fiscal year, states in the Union scrambled to make up a more than $100 billion shortfall. This not only includes huge shortfalls in California, Texas, and New York, but also shortfalls in smaller states, cities, and even some small towns. Faced with the prospect of laying off policemen, firemen and teachers, state and local governments have turned to the federal government for help. Actually, they have turned to K Street lobbyists. A recent story in the Washington Times describes how representing state and local governments on Capitol Hill is a new cash cow for the denizens of what is known as “Gucci Gulch,? named after the lobbyists’ footwear of choice.

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September 27, 2011

Memphis Church Targeted for Political Speech

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) on Friday called on the Internal Revenue Service to punish a Memphis church for including a link to a list of pro-family city council candidates on its website. On its home page, Bellevue Baptist Church is running an announcement about the Memphis city council election Oct. 6. It opens a page explaining the issue and a link to the Family Action Council of Tennessee, which maintains a list of pro-family candidates. In 2010, Memphis floated a “gender identity/expression? ordinance, giving special rights to gender-confused individuals in public spaces. Though it failed and the state has since passed a law prohibiting such ordinances, a gay-activist group is trying to revive the issue in Memphis by unseating all the council members who opposed it.

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September 23, 2011

Cheering Death?

As a rule, I try to avoid commenting on politics and campaigns. But a recent political event left me deeply shaken precisely because of my beliefs about how faith and politics ought to come together. The occasion was the Republican Presidential debate in California. Moderator Brian Williams noted that Texas had executed 234 people since Rick Perry became governor. He then asked the governor, “Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?? To which the governor instantly replied, “I’ve never struggled with that at all.? He cited what he called Texas’ “very clear process? and added that “if you come into our state and you kill one of our children? or “kill a police officer? or “one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas.?

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September 23, 2011

Gospel Rescue Missions React to Aspect of Obama Jobs Plan

If a jobs-creation plan proposed by President Barack Obama earlier this month becomes law, people who find themselves on the margins of society will become collateral damage, say missions groups. Part of Obama’s plan to pay for the $450 billion proposal, the American Jobs Act, would be to limit tax deductions to just 28 cents of every dollar individuals give to charities. “Rescue missions and thousands of other nonprofits are on the front lines of the fight against rising poverty,? said John Ashmen, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM), a 98-year-old network of crisis shelters and rehabilitation centers based in Colorado Springs, Colo. “The president and Congress should be encouraging more giving to charities that help the poor, not discouraging private donors.?

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September 22, 2011

Thousands Attend Pro-Israel Rally Outside United Nations

As President Barack Obama urged Palestine to give up its quest for a unilateral declaration of statehood at the United Nations today, approximately 4,000 people gathered on the street outside the building to protest the U.N.’s perceived anti-Semitism. “Concerned citizens, primarily from Jewish and Christian groups came together to draw attention to the fact that the United Nations continues to ignore egregious human rights violations from countries like Sudan, China and Iran, but singles out Israel as the nearly sole recipient of U.N. sanctions,? said Dr. Robert Stearns, director of Eagle’s Wings, a 17-year-old Christian ministry based in Buffalo, one of four pro-Israel groups that helped organize the rally.

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September 22, 2011

Say ‘No’ to Silence

You were probably as grossed out as I was the other day when you picked up the newspaper to see a picture of two men kissing. The occasion? They were celebrating the demise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.? Everywhere you turned, homosexual and lesbian members of the military “came out? very publicly to celebrate what the media is heralding as a huge victory for human rights. Chuck Colson You were probably as grossed out as I was the other day when you picked up the newspaper to see a picture of two men kissing. The occasion? They were celebrating the demise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.? Everywhere you turned, homosexual and lesbian members of the military “came out? very publicly to celebrate what the media is heralding as a huge victory for human rights. Why the huge media splash? Most Americans, after all, are either indifferent or opposed to gays openly serving in the military. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? served most Americans well — it kind of fit the prevailing public mood on homosexuality, which is this: “What you do in private is your business, just don’t shove it in my face.?

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September 22, 2011

Southern Baptists Consider Name Change

Concerned that its moniker may be too off-putting in the 21st century, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has formed a task force to consider all the ramifications of changing it. It’s not the first time the subject has come up. In addition to inaccurately connoting a subtle approval of Confederate slavery, the term “Southern? started becoming problematic for the denomination in the 1970s, when it began moving beyond the regional Southeast to plant churches nationwide.

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September 21, 2011

Religious Tolerance: Karma, Christ, Whatever?

There was a time in American culture, only a few generations ago, when religious differences were major. Baptists were not Methodists, and both were definitely not Presbyterians. Catholics were absolutely not Protestant, and Protestants doubted that Catholics were even Christians. Jews and Mormons were whole other species. Non-religious Americans were beyond the pale. And Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus were heathen living in faraway places. The problem with that world, we now see, was the destructive bigotry, misunderstanding, conflict and sometimes hatred that went with it. Let us call that world one of sectarian conflict.

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September 21, 2011

Twin Killings

As my late good friend Richard John Neuhaus once wrote, “for the most part, bioethicists are in the business of issuing permission slips for whatever the technicians want to do.? A less charitable friend of his put it more bluntly: “a bioethicist is to ethics what a [prostitute] is to sex.? A recent article in the New York Times shows why one could be so harsh. The story is about the rising number of what are euphemistically called “twin reductions?: Women who are carrying twins decide to kill one of their unborn children while allowing its sibling to live.

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September 21, 2011

California City Fines Couple for Home Bible Study

The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is asking the California Superior Court in Orange County to relieve a couple whose home Bible study was shut down by the city of San Juan Capistrano recently over First Amendment issues. The city fined Chuck and Stephanie Fromm $300 earlier this year after one atheist in their neighborhood of expansive homes on acre lots complained about the 40 people gathering at the Fromm’s house once or twice a week. According to city officials — who threatened to fine the Fromms $500 for each future violation — a longstanding ordinance requires groups of more than three people gathering in homes to buy permits.

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September 20, 2011

Do It Yourself Religion

Chuck Colson We often hear that most people in the United States believe in God, and if you trust the opinion polls, they do. However, when you dig down a little bit, you’ll find this good news isn’t so good after all. According to a new book by George Barna entitled Futurecast, America is filled with people who are do-it-yourselfers when it comes to religion — either making up God as they go along or dropping traditional beliefs and practices, like going to church. Barna tells USA Today, “People say, ‘I believe in God. I believe the Bible is a good book. And then I believe whatever I want.’? Indeed, Barna says only seven percent of those he surveyed say they believe in seven essential Christian doctrines, as listed in the National Association of Evangelicals’ Statement of Faith.

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September 20, 2011

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Set for Tomorrow

With the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy slated to take effect tomorrow, Congressional leaders are saying the Obama administration still hasn’t given them all the information required to deal effectively with the ramifications that are sure to follow. On Sept. 12, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., and Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson, R-S.C., sent a strongly worded letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, urging him to postpone the repeal until a sound policy can be adopted to replace DADT. “(C)ommittee officials have requested, but not received, copies of the revised regulations and a summary of all the specific policy changes, especially with regard to benefits that will take effect upon repeal,? the congressmen wrote. “This failure to meet the committee’s requests leads us to conclude that decisions on the policies and regulations to implement repeal are not complete and that your certification and those of the (president and Joint Chiefs of Staff) were inaccurate.

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September 19, 2011

The Science of Shacking Up

Glenn T. Stanton has made a career studying the role of families in our society—both as a consultant in the George W. Bush administration and today as director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family. His latest book, The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage (Moody), explores the many downsides of an increasingly popular practice among young couples: living together before marriage. Caryn Rivadeneira, an author and regular contributor to the CT women's blog, Her.meneutics, spoke with Stanton about his research findings and why they matter to men, women, and children.

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September 19, 2011

CNN Poll Finds Most Americans Would Like All, Most Abortions Banned

A CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday shows that 62 percent of the respondents believe abortion should be made illegal under most or all circumstances. The telephone poll of 1,038 voters, conducted by ORC between Sept. 9 and 11, covered a broad range of social issues — from terrorism and immigration to gay marriage and the theory of evolution — and carried a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

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