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Hear daily news updates, breaking news from across the LCMS, web only specials, and other items from the KFUO News Desk, brought to you by staff journalist Kip Allen.
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In today's News: Religious liberty wins in the Navy The United States Navy has revised its policy prohibiting active service members from attending in-person religious services. Those who disobeyed and attended church services had risked court-martial. The move is seen as an important victory on behalf of religious liberty by Navy personnel affected by the previously enacted ban, and by those who fought on their behalf. The change comes just days after First Liberty Institute sent a letter on behalf of active duty officer Daniel Schultz and several other service members affected by the order, asking the U.S. Navy to grant an accommodation so that he could attend indoor religious services. On June 24, the Navy issued an order banning troops from attending indoor religious services, although other activities such as using mass transit, hosting social gatherings of any size, and participation in protests were all permitted. The order specifically stated that “service members are prohibited from visiting, patronizing, or engaging in ... indoor religious services.” Planned Parenthood gets a new neighbor The largest Planned Parenthood facility in Texas has a new neighbor in the form of a pro-life pregnancy center that will provide life-saving support and alternatives to the deaths taking place across the street. The Prestonwood Pregnancy Center has moved to a new location in southwest Dallas, where it will offer free sonograms, ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, medical referrals, childbirth classes, and pregnancy counseling free of charge, Fox News reported. Its new location is directly across the street from Planned Parenthood’s largest abortion center in the state. Prestonwood currently has two permanent locations in Texas as well as several mobile clinics that offer pregnancy tests, sonograms, and referrals for further care. The new clinic says that since opening there is already a 50 percent increase in the number of women it has seen, 90 percent of whom ultimately decided to choose life – indicating that the location’s proximity to planned parenthood has made a significant difference in the number of babies and women saved. Partial win for pro-life in Indiana A federal judge upheld part of an Indiana pro-life law Wednesday requiring annual inspections of abortion facilities, a move that will protect both unborn babies and mothers. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Young was only a partial victory for the pro-life cause. He did permanently strike down part of the law that requires abortion facilities to report to the state when patients suffer abortion complications. Passed in 2018, the Indiana law requires annual inspections of abortion facilities and increases reporting requirements when patients experience complications from an abortion. It also includes language to help ensure abortion facilities are reporting suspected abuse, whether by a partner, parent or human trafficker. Planned Parenthood challenged both the reporting and annual inspection requirements in a lawsuit soon afterward, alleging that even the annual inspections are unfair.
In today's News: Twin wins for religious liberty Religious freedom scored two victories today at The U.S. Supreme Court. In one ruling, government cannot interfere with a religious school’s judgement on who should or should not teach religion classes, according to a 7-2 ruling handed down by the United States Supreme Court. The case concerned two Catholic schools right to select educators who reflect their understanding of their faith, free from government interference. The religious liberty legal firm Becket Law is represented the schools that are facing lawsuits from two teachers fired for unsatisfactory performance. Becket argued that the schools’ hiring and firing decisions fall under a “ministerial exemption,” meaning religious institutions have the right to decide whom they want imparting the faith to others, free from government interference — even when the employees in question, in this case teachers, are not “ministers” in the strictest sense. Little Sisters of the Poor win The second win was also a 7-2 ruling, this decision siding with the Little Sisters of the Poor and their bid to stop being forced to distribute abortion-inducing and contraceptive drugs to their employees. The Obama administration had first mandated that employers subsidize the provision of contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, to their employees under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic institution that provides support for the elderly poor, refused to comply, as did other religious employers, sparking years of litigation. Millions of PPP dollars to abortion provider On Monday, the Small Business Administration released the names of more than 650,000 companies that received emergency small business aid due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Among them are 43 Planned Parenthood affiliates. Each of these affiliates received at least $150,000 with 16 getting between $1-2 million, 16 getting between $2-5 million, three receiving $5-10 million, and eight receiving $350,000-$1 million. In total, Planned Parenthood received between $65.8 million and $135 million, according to Life Site News. In addition, other pro-abortion organizations received PPP loans as well, including the National Network Of Abortion Providers ($350,000-$1 million), National Abortion Federation ($350,000-$1 million), and NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation ($350 – $1 million). Independently owned abortion businesses also received loan money. The loans were given out as part of the $2.2 trillion cares act paycheck protection program. Companies that received funds were required to use the money to pay their employees while the businesses were closed down. To qualify, companies had to employ fewer than 500 people. Despite this, multiple private equity-backed businesses received loans, which, if used properly, do not have to be repaid.
Missouri funds pro-life options Missouri lawmakers just dedicated six and a half million dollars in their new state budget to support mothers who choose life for their babies. Last week, pro-life Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed the budget, which includes funding for the state alternatives to abortion program. The program supports pregnant and parenting mothers and babies through pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes in the state. These organizations provide free services, including pregnancy tests and prenatal care, counseling and job training, diapers and cribs, clothing and food, temporary shelter and more to families in need. Students consider the ministry High school students considering a future in ministry are invited to participate in Concordia Seminary, St. Louis’ Virtual Vocatio event Aug. 2–4. The event is usually held on campus but has been moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic. During the event, students will explore God’s calling and direction through Bible study and thoughtful conversation about vocation. Students will interact with seminary faculty throughout the event, as well as with representatives from the Concordia University system during a virtual college fair. The event is free, and the registration deadline is July 17. Interested participants can learn more and register a  csl.edu/vocatio. Lutheran missionaries in Asia continue the Lord's work LCMS Asia missionaries remain hard at work in their fields of service. Two families returned to the U.S. because they were in high-risk categories and in places where decent medical care was not available. The vast majority of LCMS Asia personnel opted to stay in their assigned countries in the places where they have made their homes. Borders are closed everywhere, and so missionaries find community with neighbors and via remote visits. Sri Lanka was subject to particularly strict lockdowns, with personnel enduring days-long curfews. Teaching conferences may have been put on hold, but the development and translation of resources continues at a rapid pace. Planned Parenthood received PPP funds Multinational abortion provider Planned Parenthood was revealed this week to have made off with millions of dollars in government assistance by way of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Established to provide bridge loans to American small businesses crippled by public health lockdowns, the program has been plagued with controversy since its April roll-out as a result of numerous questionable loan approvals for corporate organizations widely believed to have applied without any real need of financial relief. According to official data released Monday by the PPP’s administrators at the United States’ Small Business Administration, Planned Parenthood Federation of America was one such offender, with its locations and affiliates nationwide receiving as much as $150 million in aid from the program.Consolidated financial statements reveal Planned Parenthood possessed roughly $1.9 billion in net assets and saw its total annual revenue exceed $1 billion in both 2017 and 2018.
In today’s News: The Navy eases religious restrictions The Navy updated its coronavirus restrictions after chaplains and a religious liberty law firm complained last week alleging that service members were being unlawfully prohibited from attending indoor religious services. Capt. Sarah Self-Kyler, director of fleet public affairs, told Fox News the temporary measures have been in place since late March to protect the health and safety of sailors and their families, noting that conditions still "prohibit sailors from attending off-base indoor religious services, and remain necessary given existing medical information about the current rise in covid-19 cases in certain locations throughout the country." However, if conditions are met locally, as they are by several Navy installations across the country, "sailors are not prohibited from attending off-base indoor religious services," she said." Mike Berry, the First Liberty Institute general counsel who sent the letter last week, expressed assurance that the Navy would do the right thing in light of President Trump's executive actions. Supreme Court lets 'bubble zones' stand The U.S. Supreme Court decided last week not to hear challenges by pro-life advocates to two “bubble zone” laws that ban them from exercising pro-life speech outside abortion centers. The court’s July 2 written order declining to hear the cases from Chicago and Harrisburg, Penn., came scant days after its 5-4 ruling striking down a Louisiana law requiring abortion centers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The justices followed the usual practice of not commenting on turning away the cases, Associated Press reported, adding that the court’s order noted that Justice Clarence Thomas would have heard the Chicago case. The Chicago ordinance has been in place since 2009 and forbids pro-life advocates from going within eight feet of a pregnant mother who is within 50 feet of an abortion center. Protests, yes. Bible conference, no The Colorado state attorney general attempted to ban Andrew Wommack Ministries from holding in-person gatherings of more than 175 people in accordance with the governor’s orders, while permitting mass protests with no social distancing or other health precautions. The attorney general sent a Cease-and-Desist letter to the ministry in an attempt to shut down its Bible conference held at Charis Bible College on the last day, as well as any future conferences. Liberty Counsel is representing Andrew Wommack Ministries. The attorney general stated that the ministry must cancel the remainder of the conference that ended on July 3 in addition to the July 4 celebration. However, on June 26, Andrew Wommack and his executive team met with Teller County and Woodland Park public health and law enforcement officials to review and discuss the hosting of a safe and large faith-based gathering. As a result, the ministry submitted an updated plan, which the county offered further recommendations that was acceptable to the ministry. Then ministry officials received a cease and desist order from the state.
No singing in church allowed Worship if you must, but no singing, California health officials told state residents last week in new guidelines about the Coronavirus. Beginning in March, California heavily restricted religious gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and save lives. However, the Democrat-led state also allowed abortion facilities to continue elective abortions without restriction. On July 1, the California Department of Public Health issued new guidelines outlining steps that houses of worship should take to help prevent further spread of the virus. One of those measures prohibits singing, even when people are social distancing and wearing masks. In April, three California churches filed a lawsuit against pro-abortion Gov. Gavin Newsom after he exempted abortion facilities but not churches from his stay-at-home mandate during the coronavirus crisis. Several pro-life Christians also filed lawsuits to demand their right to peacefully assemble and speak freely outside abortion facilities that continue to kill unborn babies during the pandemic. Ohio's oldest abortion facility closes its doors The Founder’s abortion clinic in Ohio has finally closed for good. Founder’s, which first opened in 1973, was Ohio’s oldest and longest-operating abortion facility. Founder’s had its share of problems and issues over the years. Ohio’s longest-practicing abortionist lost his license in November 2018 after he allegedly broke prescription drug laws, according to state documents. Columbus abortionist Harley Blank, 79, was accused of wrong-doing multiple times during his decades-long abortion practice. The Columbus Dispatch reported Blank agreed to surrender his medical license rather than face disciplinary proceedings for alleged prescription drug violations. According to the state order, Blank allegedly violated state laws by “failing to keep any charts or patient records” on the men to whom he prescribed the drugs. Blank worked at Founder’s women’s health center, an abortion facility in Columbus, and other abortion facilities in the state. According to the report, he became known as the first abortionist to legally abort an unborn baby in Ohio in 1973. The Planned Parenthood abortion chain gave blank an award in 2012 for his work. States move to protect women's sports Bills restricting transgender students’ involvement in school-sponsored athletics are up for consideration in 14 states, according to the left-wing Human Rights Campaign. A poll released in November, 2019, found that less than a third of Americans believe biological males who identify as transgender should be allowed to compete on girls sports teams. Another poll released in October, 2019, found that Americans said by a 57-20 margin that male athletes who self-identify as transgender have competitive advantages over female athletes. Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington are all considering bills to inhibit transgender athletes from participating in school-sponsored sports, Axios reported.
In today's News: Woman sues St. Louis Planned Parenthood As reported by pro-life watchdog group Operation Rescue, a woman named in the 2019 deficiency report for RHS Planned Parenthood in St. Louis sued the abortion business for damages after she was forced to undergo three abortions for the same pregnancy. According to the records, patient Maureen Peal went to RHS Planned Parenthood on May 26, 2018, for an abortion at 10 weeks and two days gestation. Abortionist Justin Diedrich, who was trained at the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, committed a first-trimester suction abortion without the guidance of an ultrasound and the abortion was determined to have been completed. But Peal returned to RHS Planned Parenthood a month later and learned she was still pregnant and that her baby — now 15 weeks and one day old — had a strong heartbeat. Now in the second trimester, she underwent a dismemberment abortion committed by Diedrich. That abortion was also determined to be complete. However, three days later, peal was admitted to Barnes Jewish Hospital with sepsis from an infected uterus. This led to a third abortion to remove the pieces of her deceased preborn child that Diedrich had left in inside her. Push for Veterans Administration to pay for abortions Democrats in Congress have been pushing for years to force taxpayers to fund abortions for military members and veterans. During a hearing Tuesday in the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, they debated another bill, sponsored by u.s. Rep. Julia Brownley Of Calif., to allow the Department of Veteran Affairs to start doing elective abortions with taxpayer dollars, according to the military news site Stars and Stripes. Pro-abortion democrats claimed a 30-year-old law prohibiting abortions in the VA is a “harsh” inequality for female military veterans. The VA does not abort unborn babies in elective abortions, and abortions are excluded from the VA health benefits package. Under a 1992 law, elective abortions are not considered part of “general reproductive health care” for veterans. Pro LGBTQ law is challenged A Christian wedding photographer and blogger in Virginia filed suit against that state’s attorney general, seeking to prevent the enforcement of a new non-discrimination law that its democrat supporters admitted was intended to be “punitive” against those who decline to celebrate same-sex weddings. The law presents the photographer with an impossible choice: violate his conscience, close his business, or face a $50,000 fine for the first offense and $100,000 fines for each later offense. Chris Herring, owner of Chris Herring photography, filed the pre-enforcement lawsuit on Tuesday before the law came into effect on Yesterday. The lawsuit claims the Virginia Values Act — Which Gov. Ralph Northam signed on the Saturday before Easter during a pandemic — violates Herring’s rights to free speech, free association, freedom of the press, religious liberty, and the Constitution’s ban on a government establishment of religion. “I happily work with and serve all customers, but I can’t and won’t let the state force me to express messages that contradict my beliefs,” the photographer insisted.
In today's News: Missouri medicaid payment for abortion stays Yesterday, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down state lawmakers’ efforts to defund Planned Parenthood as a “Clear and unmistakable violation” of the state constitution, the AP reports. By a 6-1 majority, the justices ruled that a state budget law prohibiting medicaid funds to abortion groups is unconstitutional Biden declares for abortion 'under any circumstances' In a statement praising the Supreme Court for striking down a Louisiana law requiring doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced his support for abortion “under any circumstance,” staking out an extreme position on the issue. Biden, once a self-proclaimed “pro-life Democrat” stood by his personal opposition to abortion as recently as the 2012 presidential election, when he explained, in a debate against then-republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, that he was “personally opposed” to the procedure but felt he had no reason to prevent women from exercising “choice.” Religious equality scores a win The Supreme Court sided with a group of families in Montana that challenged a state law which banned scholarship money from being used toward faith-based schools in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. the grants were given via donations that were tax deductible. the court ruled that discrimination against non-secular schools is a violation of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, and that although states “need not subsidize private education,” non-secular institutions cannot be discriminated against in the distribution of such subsidies based on religious ties. Lutheran students help first responders In St. Charles, Mo., a cooperative effort of the Lutheran High School of St. Charles County Stem Program, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, and a group of individual donors has resulted in the production and delivery of over 5,000 PPE face shields to health care workers, first responders and others. the project, called “help From Home,” began in March and is still underway. David Zilz, director of LHS’ stem robotics team, the Roboteers, explained that, while many groups around the country have been producing 3D-printed headbands for protective face shields, fewer have been performing all the steps needed to assemble and deliver complete, ready-to-wear shields. Zilz added that the “Help From Home” team has been involved in not only producing and assembling the face shields but delivering them as well, all while following social distancing guidelines. Navy bans indoor religious services On June 24, the Navy issued an order that banned troops from attending indoor religious services, although other activities such as using mass transit, hosting social gatherings of any size, and participation in protests are all permitted. but the order specifically states that “service members are prohibited from visiting, patronizing, or engaging in . . . indoor religious services.” the Navy’s orders apply to everyone assigned to navy units and vessels including, its chaplains.
In today's News: Court victory for abortionists The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a law restricting abortions in Louisiana is unconstitutional. In a landmark decision, the justices said a law requiring that doctors who provide abortions have the right to admit patients at a local hospital placed an undue burden on women. Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal justices in the 5-4 decision in a blow to pro-life groups. This was the first major abortion case ruling from the Supreme Court during the Trump presidency. The 2014 Louisiana law said that doctors must hold admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their practice. But critics said the law would limit the number of providers in the state, violating a woman's right to an abortion. In dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “Today a majority of the court perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction.” On behalf of President Donald Trump, the White House issued a statement slamming the ruling and saying it “devalued the lives of unborn children.” Missouri's abortion facility remains open for a year A Missouri Planned Parenthood facility In St. Louis, described as one of the worst abortion facilities in the country for women’s safety, will be allowed to remain open for another year. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services was forced to renew the St. Louis abortion facility’s license last week because of a ruling in may. Over the weekend, Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt said the state will not appeal the ruling, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Lutheran students serve their community The coronavirus shutdown drastically changed the way most brick-and-mortar schools around the world wrapped up their academic years, but that didn’t stop schools in the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod from continuing serving their communities and each other. Heartland Lutheran High School in Grand Island, Neb., held its last day of on-campus classes on March 12. As the school transitioned from classroom-based instruction to school at home, Heartland’s senior class began looking for ways to serve their community amid the shutdown. During the height of the covid-19 outbreak in April, Grand Island was one of Nebraska’s virus hotspots, recording the highest number of confirmed cases in the state. With the support of Heartland Principal Timothy Leech, the students organized a food drive for families in need. In addition to collecting over 12,000 nonperishable grocery items, the students also received over $11,000 in donations. The cash and approximately three-quarters of the grocery items were donated to the United Way’s Food for Thought Program, which hosts a backpack drive and provides food to 200 families a week during the summer months. The remaining grocery items were donated to other food banks and shelters in town.
In today's News: A pro-life law is struck down A Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals was struck down this morning by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. Four liberal justices; Kagen, Sotomayer, Breyer and Ginsberg; ruled that the law was similar to a Texas law that was struck down in 2016. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the majority in a concurring opinion stating that while he believes the Texas ruling was incorrect, the concept of precedent requires him to uphold it in subsequent ruling. Conservative Justices Thomas, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Alito, all dissented. In his dissent, Alito wrote “The abortion right recognized in this court’s decisions is used like a bulldozer to flatten legal rules that stand in the way.” Religious restrictions struck down Friday, a federal judge ruled that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James, and Mayor Bill de Blasio may not order or enforce indoor or outdoor restrictions on religious worship gatherings. Represented by the Thomas More Society, two Catholic priests from upstate New York and a trio of orthodox Jewish congregants from Brooklyn sued Cuomo, James and de Blasio for violations of their free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. Senior u.s. District Judge Gary l. Sharpe issued a preliminary injunction and said that Cuomo is wrong to limit worship services as a “matter of public safety” yet condone mass protests. In awarding the injunction, the court noted that “nonessential businesses” that enjoy a 50 percent capacity limitation are not justifiably different than houses of worship.  Concordia Seminary hold virtual event for prospective students Prospective students and their families are invited to learn more about Concordia Seminary, St. Louis during the next steps visitation event, set for 2–4 p.m. Central time Saturday, July 11. Due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the event will be held online. Designed for prospective pastoral and diaconal students who are married or who are engaged and will be married when they come to the Seminary, the event will give participants valuable information about the application process, financial aid and housing. The event also will include a panel discussion with current students and their spouses who will answer questions and provide information about campus life, local schools and transitioning to the Seminary. Planned Parenthood names new president After spending nearly a year as Planned Parenthood’s acting president and CEO, Alexis McGill Johnson has officially been named the abortion organization’s permanent leader. Last July, Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and the former Baltimore city health commissioner, was fired in a supposed “secret” meeting. Wen claimed it was because she had attempted to make Planned Parenthood less political, and to shift the organization’s more toward health care. Wen was summarily fired, and McGill Johnson was brought on board in her place. In an interview for Planned Parenthood, McGill Johnson claimed she knew she wanted to work in the abortion industry when she saw a pro-life billboard in New York City which read, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”
In today's News: Planned Parenthood gets a license Missouri's health department yesterday issued another license to the state's only abortion clinic following a year-long legal battle over whether the St. Louis Planned Parenthood Center could stay open. The Department of Health and Senior Services last year declined to renew the clinic's license, which meant the clinic wouldn't have been allowed to provide abortions. Planned Parenthood sued. After a year-long legal battle, the state's administrative hearing commission ruled in may that the health department was wrong not to renew the clinic's license. The health department, which is represented by the state Attorney General's office, hasn't indicated if it will appeal the administrative hearing commission ruling. Monday is the deadline to appeal. Online courses offered to pastors, church workers Concordia Seminary, St. Louis is partnering with Concordia University Wisc., For the first time to offer two online continuing education courses for pastors, one in the fall and one in the spring. The courses are especially appropriate for ordained pastors, commissioned church workers and lay leaders. The courses are fully online. Each course features six modules over six weeks, with video lectures, optional readings, recommended assignments and peer discussion activities. The opening and closing sessions will be held live online and will be recorded for later viewing. All other sessions will be fully asynchronous, meaning they can be completed at any time during the run of each course. Faith-based adoption groups gain support President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to bolster the federal government’s work with community and faith-based groups in adoption and foster care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the order will encourage better partnerships between states and faith-based and community organizations in adoption and foster care, help publicize best practices, and states and local authorities to recruit more foster and adoptive families. The executive order comes ahead of a Supreme Court case involving Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia. In 2018, the city stopped referrals of foster children with the organization due to its faith-based stance on marriage. The case has been scheduled for the Supreme Court’s fall 2020 term. Senator opposes the 'Equality Act' Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said on Wednesday that he opposes the unamended Equality Act, which passed the Democrat-controlled House last year, because, among other things, "It would force people of faith, doctors, others to perform abortions." The equality acts says an official summary that it, "prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in a wide variety of areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation. The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual's gender identity," says the summary. The bill also "prohibits the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 from providing a claim, defense, or basis for challenging such protections.”
In today's News: Newspaper calls pro-life ad 'racist' A pro-life organization has been blocked from running a pro-life “All Lives Matter” ad in a local newspaper. The paper claimed the ad was “racist.” The Rockford Family Initiative, an Illinois based pro-life organization, attempted to place the pro-life ad in a local newspaper, The Rockford Register Star. The ad depicts a picture of an unborn baby with the words “All Lives Matter” above the picture. Originally, the newspaper agreed to run the ad. It later refused, however, asking that the wording be changed since it was “racist.” The Register Star sales manager told the Rockford Family Initiative that “all lives matter is seen as racist to the black community.” Department of Justice scolds New York City's mayor The U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to New York City Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday calling out the hypocrisy of enforcing covid-19 restrictions against religious gatherings while giving a pass to crowded Black Lives Matter protests. The letter reads, “Mayor de Blasio’s recent public statements and enforcement of covid-19 orders have demonstrated a troubling preference for certain First Amendment rights over others. New York City had vigorously enforced restrictions on religious gatherings, including by sending police officers to disperse numerous gatherings of the Jewish community, including outdoor funerals. At the same time, Mayor de Blasio marched in large in-person political gatherings concerning the recent tragic death of George Floyd and made statements suggesting — in a manner forbidden by the First Amendment — that religious exercise was less valued and protected by New York City than political exercise.” Pro-abortion groups sue Iowa Planned Parenthood And the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a lawsuit against a new law in Iowa that requires mothers to wait at least 24 hours after their initial appointment before getting an abortion. As reported by KCCI 8 News, the law, which was passed earlier this month, also requires mothers to view an ultrasound of their baby and receive adoption information. The legislation was made public on the evening of June 13 and pushed through by republicans in the early hours of June 14. Ohio expands religious rights of students Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine signed a bill into law expanding the religious freedom for students in public schools that was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Student Religious Liberties Act, introduced in March 2019, passed with a near-unanimous vote and was signed Friday. The new law clarifies that students can pray, wear religious clothing, meet on school grounds and express their faith in school, as long as they are not disruptive. The law also will abolish restrictions on students from engaging in religious expression in completion of homework, artwork, or other assignments. Critics of the bill say it could allow students to avoid penalties for scientifically wrong answers if those happen to conform with their religious beliefs.
In today's News: Planned Parenthood exec fired A top executive at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has been fired over allegations of racism. The organization’s board of directors announced yesterday that they had “parted ways” Monday with Laura McQuade, who had served as chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York since 2017, the New York Times reported. The news came after allegations of both abusive and discriminatory behavior towards black Planned Parenthood employees. Virginia is for snitches The Virginia Department of Public Health is urging residents to “snitch on” public gatherings and other activities that violate Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam’s coronavirus orders, including churches. The Washington Free Beacon reports that the health department’s website has been updated to include the option to anonymously report to the state neighbors who exceed the emergency limits on building capacity or refuse to wear masks. The form allows users to specify the “type of establishment” they’re reporting, including “indoor gun range” or “religious service.” Under Northam’s phase two” rules, “religious services must be limited to no more than 50 percent of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy of the room or facility in which the religious services are conducted. Individuals attending religious services must be at least six feet apart when seated and must practice proper physical distancing at all times” with the exception of family members. Groups wants taxpayer money for 'gender transition' Several pro-LGBT pressure organizations filed a federal lawsuit Monday in hopes of reversing the Trump Administration’s decision to roll back an Obama-era regulation that would allow healthcare providers that receive federal funds to perform “gender transition” operations and abortions. In May of 2016, the Obama Administration redefined “sex discrimination” under Obamacare to include an individual’s “internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.” The rule also covered “termination of pregnancy” under its definition of sex discrimination. The Trump Administration’s Department O\of Health and Human Services announced this month that it will “enforce section 1557 by returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.” Survey on morality of abortion released A plurality of Americans believe that killing babies in abortions is morally wrong, a new Gallup Poll finds. The Values And Beliefs Poll, which Gallup conducts every year, found that 47 percent of Americans believe abortions are morally wrong, while 44 percent said they are morally acceptable. Gallup also broke down the numbers into those who identify as liberal or conservative. Just 18 percent of conservatives said abortions are morally acceptable, while 70 percent of liberals did. That 52 percent difference was the largest split on any issue between liberals and conservatives. Other polls have found similarly strong opposition to the killing of unborn babies in abortions.
In today's News: 'Chapel Talks for LCMS Schools' is released LCMS School Ministry has released this year’s "Chapel Talks for Lutheran Schools," an annual resource provided for Lutheran schools to use as an outline for weekly school chapel. Under the theme “Sent To Serve,” the 2020–21 “Chapel Talks” contains 43 devotions — one for each week of the school year — plus services for the beginning and ending of the school year and for Christmas. Each week’s devotion uses a Scripture reading corresponding to the three-year lectionary to explore the theme of service — both Christ’s service to the world and Christians’ service to others. Lutheran school workers are encouraged to provide “side dishes” to go along with the devotions. The devotions may also be adapted for different age groups and local contexts. Hymn selections from both Lutheran Service Book and All God’s People Sing are provided for each week. Illinois is tracking church goers The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling on the case of the two Illinois Romanian churches included a statement about “contact tracing” to determine “how dangerous religious services are” compared to other “similar activities.” The court stated: “perhaps with more time — and more data from contact tracing —Illinois could figure out just how dangerous religious services are compared with warehouses and similar activities”. Gov. J.B. Pritzker previously announced the launch of Illinois’ statewide contact tracing program, Illinois contact tracing collaborative, a “locally-driven approach to scale up contact tracing in Illinois” for covid-19 cases as part of his restore Illinois program. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the contact tracing program consists of tracers interviewing people who have newly tested positive about whom they had significant contact with in the past 48 hours. Those people, often family, friends or coworkers, are then contacted and encouraged to stay home and practice social distancing for 14 days or get tested. Pritzker called contact tracing “arguably our most sustainable tool” in further slowing new covid-19 cases and lifting social and economic restrictions.  Tennessee passes a 'heartbeat bill' Tennessee lawmakers passed one of the tightest abortion restrictions in the country on Friday, banning the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected at around six weeks, which is often before a woman realizes she is pregnant. The “heartbeat” bill follows a wave of similar strict pro-life measures passed by Republican-majority legislatures in an effort to prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case granting a woman’s constitutional right to abortion. In the last two years, federal judges have struck down “fetal heartbeat” laws banning abortion after six weeks in several states on the grounds that they were unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood filed a joint lawsuit in federal court on Friday challenging the bill.
In today's News: Apply now for deaconess studies program A new distance deaconess studies program will launch in the spring 2021 semester at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. This program will allow students to become certified to serve as commissioned deaconesses in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The four-year program will prepare women to share the Gospel through works of mercy, spiritual care and teaching the Christian faith. Students who complete the program will be eligible for placement as commissioned deaconesses in the LCMS. The seminary is currently accepting applications for enrollment in the spring 2021 semester; the application deadline is Aug. 31. Democrats move to repeal religious protections Last Monday, the Supreme Court Ruled 6–3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination in employment also prohibits such discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and “transgender status.” In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito warned that the decision presents clear threats to religious liberty, while Justice Neil Gorsuch countered in his majority opinion that there are still a variety of legal protections for religious Americans, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While it’s unknown what religious exemptions the Supreme Court “might” actually provide in cases involving claims of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, Congressional Democrats made it clear that they don’t want to leave anything to chance, pushing forward with a bill that would explicitly strip religious Americans of the ability to defend themselves under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in future employment-discrimination lawsuits. Illinois Dioceses join Supreme Court case A Philadelphia law that purports to prevent discrimination actually harms children through religious discrimination, according to an a friend of the court brief filed with the United States Supreme Court by the Thomas More Society. Representing Catholic Charities from two Illinois Dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church, the brief, filed June 3, in Sharonell Fulton. V. City of Philadelphia, supports Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese Of Philadelphia, along with foster parents Sharonell Fulton and Toni Lynn Simms-Busch. The Thomas More Society filing speaks to Philadelphia’s alleged First Amendment violation in requiring a religious agency to make statements and perform actions that contradict its religious beliefs in order to participate in the foster care system. Having experienced in Illinois what happened in Philadelphia, Catholic Charities of the Diocese Of Springfield in Illinois and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet, are asking the high court to side with their Pennsylvania counterparts and the foster parents suing for their religious rights. The amici brief notes that Illinois presented no evidence that same-sex couples were not readily able to find assessment and qualification services from over 60 department of children and family services offices and over 50 alternative foster care agencies, stating, “the state’s exclusion of faith-based foster care providers was thus a solution in search of a problem and harmed Illinois children without any countervailing benefit.”
In today's News: Congressional Democrats support transgender athletes Twenty-eight Congressional Democrats signed a letter Wednesday condemning the Department of Education for ruling that public schools that allow biological males who identify as transgender to play girls sports are violating Title IX Civil Rights legislation. Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal joined 27 House Democrats in signing the letter, which charged that the Department’s order “discriminates against transgender youth” by restricting girls sports to biological females. The Education Department on May 15 issued a ruling stating that public schools that allow biological males into girls athletics are violating Title IX, which protects women’s access to education and athletics. The Department of Justice previously backed a lawsuit filed by high school girls in Connecticut who said the liberal state’s transgender policies violated their rights. Blind woman banned from library First Liberty Institute and William Wray Jr., An attorney at Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C., yesterday filed a charge of discrimination with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights against Westerly, Rhode Island’s Memorial and Library Association for banning a blind woman from Wilcox Park and Westerly Public Library in Westerly, Rhode Island. Park officials demanded that Gail Blair, who was 63-years old at the time and blind, stop having conversations with others in the public park about Jesus in which she would offer them a small copy of the Gospel of John. As a result, park officials banned Blair from their park and library. Park officials then called on the local police to issue a formal “trespass warning” to Blair, threatening to arrest her if she enters the park or library within a period of two years. 'Falling in love with Jesus' Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback who is the highest-paid player in the NFL, has sent out a series of tweets in recent days expressing his devotion to Jesus Christ. “Falling in love with Jesus was the best thing I've ever done,” Wilson said in a tweet sent out on Tuesday. In 2014, Wilson led the Seahawks to a 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Bill to ban discriminatory abortions The Mississippi Senate has advanced a bill that will ban discriminatory abortions. The Life Equality Act, sponsored by Mississippi State Senator Jenifer Branning and endorsed by Chairman Brice Wiggins, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and others, would ban abortions based on “a child’s race, sex, disability, or genetic makeup,” according to the Susan B. Anthony list. The bill passed by a vote of 33-11. The Life Equality Act passed the Mississippi House in March, but following the senate’s recent passage, the house and senate bill amendments must concur and will then head to Gov. Tate Reeves for his signature. Discrimination against the preborn occurs globally, especially against females in societies where women have been treated as “less than” for centuries—and even today. Race discrimination is also common. While African-Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, black women account for 38 percent of reported abortions.
In today's News: Senator blasts Supreme Court sex decision In light of the recent Supreme Court decision prohibiting employment discrimination against homosexuals and transgenders, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri on Tuesday called for religious conservatives to “stand up and speak out.” Hawley declared that because of the SCOTUS’ decision, the conservative legal project has failed the project’s “core” - religious conservatives. Congress is “terrified” of being held accountable, he said. Nickelodean celebrates homosexuality Spongebob Squarepants and the network that runs the show, Nickelodeon, are promoting homosexuality for June, the designated "pride" month for LGBT Americans. Nickelodeon, which is owned by ViacomCBS, is a cable channel for children, aimed at kids age 2 to 17. Americans support 'ministerial exception' In a new survey of a nationally representative sample of American adults, respondents showed an intuitive understanding of and support for the First Amendment principles that protect a religious organization’s ability to determine its own religious mission and beliefs, including by selecting those who pass its faith to the next generation. The survey especially focused on this ability to pass on the faith to the next generation free from government interference, a protection often referred to as the “ministerial exception.” The survey, fielded in late April, found that more than two-thirds of respondents agreed that keeping the government out of a religious organization’s internal religious disputes is an important facet of a healthy separation of church and state. A majority of respondents also said that the religious organization should have the final say when a dispute arises over who can or cannot teach its beliefs to the next generation. In fact, more respondents chose this option than all other options combined. Planned Parenthood attacks new pro-life law Planned Parenthood, the billion-dollar abortion chain, is criticizing a new Iowa law that ensures abortion facilities give women the opportunity to see their unborn babies on an ultrasound and hear their baby’s heartbeat at least 24 hours prior to the abortion. In addition, Iowa requires abortion facilities to provide women with information about abortion risks and resources available for parenting and adoption, and to confirm in writing that women received it. The Iowa legislature passed the pro-life waiting period bill on Sunday, and already Planned Parenthood is considering a legal challenge. Informed consent laws help protect unborn babies from abortion, and the abortion industry knows it. Research indicates that when women see ultrasound images of their unborn babies, they are more likely to choose life. A 2017 study out of the University of California San Francisco also suggests that some women do change their minds about abortion as a result of informed consent laws. A majority of states require a waiting period prior to an abortion and 35 require informed consent counseling, which typically includes facts about an unborn baby’s development, the risks of abortion and alternatives to abortion, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.
In today's News: Concordia Irvine helps Concordia Portland employees Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., and the LCMS Northwest District formed a partnership earlier this year to establish the Concordia University, Portland, Ore. (CUP), employee assistance fund. Over 100 donors, individuals and congregations have come together to raise over $55,000 to support CUP employees. The funds raised will go toward covering the medical premium expenses of CUP employees. Illinois refuses to leave churches alone In a key appeals court hearing concerning Illinois' restrictions on churches, the Office of the Governor refused to commit to leaving churches alone, opening the door for more draconian measures against houses of worship. The assistant attorney general for the state of Illinois was asked twice Friday by the judicial panel of the 7th Circuit whether Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker would never again restrict or ban church meetings. "No your honor, we are not," replied Pritzker's attorney. Iowa considers pro-life legislation Iowa legislators have passed informed consent legislation that would require a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortion. It would also require abortionists to give a woman the opportunity to see an ultrasound of her baby before the abortion and to give her information about adoption, the risks of having an abortion, and other community resources that are available to her. The amendment was passed Sunday morning, after legislators worked overnight. If signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds, the legislation will be an amendment to the state’s existing abortion laws. Congressman says religious liberty mean discrimination Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney Of New York Said Monday that religious liberty is a "bogus term" that merely serves as a "pretext for discrimination." Maloney was celebrating the the high-profile victory for LGBT rights at the Supreme Court, but he took time to criticize the author of the decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch, for having supported religious liberty. The Supreme Court Ruled Monday that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination, protects lesbian, gay, and transgender workers. Gorsuch, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, delivered the opinion in a six-to-three decision. Maloney co-chairs the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus and has previously criticized defenders of religious liberty for attempting to "sanction discrimination." An American commission calls for agreement with Pakistan A U.S. Panel yesterday called for a binding commitment from Pakistan to improving its treatment of religious minorities, including by tackling abuse of blasphemy laws. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which advises but does not set government policy, said the United States should seek written promises in return for Pakistan exiting the State Department's blacklist of violators.
In today's News: Concordia Nebraska aids students Concordia University, Nebraska, Seward, Neb., (CUNE)Is providing funds it has received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to any student who has been impacted financially by the transition to online-only classes. Each student who submits qualified expenses is expected to receive up to $400 from CUNE’s $500,000 in higher education emergency relief funds. “We are thankful to have this opportunity to provide each of our students who were affected financially by this pandemic at least some funding to help them recover,” said Scott Jenkins, CUNE director of financial aid. LGBTQ wins in Supreme Court In a 6-3 ruling issued yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court said an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The court found that "homosexuality and transgender status are inextricably bound up with sex. Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver, said: “The majority opinion departs from the clear language of Title VII and is no less than legislation from the bench. While the case did not include a religious freedom defense, the court expressly stated that religious employers will likely have a valid defense under the first amendment and the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Planned Parenthood endorses Joe Biden Abortion business has officially endorsed Democrat Joe Biden for president. In a statement, Acting President and CEO Alexis Mcgill Johnson made the election out to be a life-and-death issue. “This election is a fight for our country’s very survival,” she said, while touting Biden’s extensive pro-abortion positions. “Joe Biden is the only candidate in this race who will stand up for our health and our rights.” In addition to endorsing Biden, Planned Parenthood has promised to triple its election spending this year, with $45 million earmarked towards battleground states. Pro-life protestors targeted for arrest A pair of pro-life New Yorkers arrested for sidewalk counseling outside of an abortion facility in alleged violation of state “social distancing guidelines” is calling out the hypocrisy of forbidding safe, peaceful pro-life demonstration while allowing the massive, crowded protests of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. On May 30, Bevelyn Beatty and Edmee Chavannes were outside Manhattan’s Margaret Sanger Center Planned Parenthood in hopes of persuading women entering the facility not to go through with abortion, Live Action reports. A security guard called the police, who ordered them to leave for “social distancing” reasons. When they didn’t, they were arrested for failure to disperse. BLM supports “reproductive justice that gives us autonomy over our bodies.” An estimated 40 percent of all U.S. Abortions are sought by black women, meaning that Black Lives Matter supports the annual elimination of more than 344,800 black lives every year.
In today's News: Supreme Court rules 'sex' included sexual identity The Supreme Court today issued its ruling on a historic case about LGBT employment discrimination, with the majority deciding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, also applies to gay or transgender people. It was a 6-3 decision. One of the cases involved was Harris Funeral Home. This family-run funeral home fired one of its male employees when the employee changed gender to female. Although the court ruled that gender identity is sex as described by law and therefore may not face discrimination, it noted that Harris did not claim religious exemption in the firing. The court further noted that its ruling does not impact those with religious or moral objections. Boston accused of religious discrimination Liberty Counsel filed an opening brief to the First Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Boston resident Hal Shurtleff and his christian civic organization, Camp Constitution, arguing that the city of Boston violated the First Amendment by censoring a private flag in a public forum merely because it contained a cross. The city refers to its flagpole as a “public forum” and allows private organizations to temporarily raise their own flags on the flagpoles. Never has Boston censored any flag until the Christian flag. The city’s records show Boston has allowed at least 284 applications by private organizations on the city hall flagpoles without denial except for the Christian flag. Religious protection extended to healthcare workers The Department of Health and Human Services has just finalized a new rule that protects patients, aligns with current medical research, and complies with rulings from two federal courts. An older rule, imposed in 2016, had required doctors to perform gender transition procedures even if doing so would violate their religious beliefs and potentially harm their patients. That rule was struck down in two lawsuits brought by nine states, several religious organizations, and an association of more than 19,000 healthcare professionals. The new rule, finalized Friday, complies with those court decisions and ensures that sensitive medical decisions are kept between patients and their doctors without government interference. Christian giving remains strong When the U.S.economy shut down in March due to covid-19, financial predictions for churches and other ministries were dire. But a new survey suggests those predictions may have been overblown. Most evangelical churches and ministries saw giving remain steady or grow during the height of stay-at-home restrictions, according to a survey of more than 1,300 christian ministries released last week by the Evangelical Council For Financial Accountability. Among those surveyed, total cash giving in April 2020 equaled or surpassed April 2019 giving levels at 66 percent of churches and 59 percent of nonprofits. An even greater percentage of churches, 72 percent, and other Christian nonprofits, 61 percent, said their April 2020 cash gifts met or exceeded January 2020 levels, when the economy was booming and the stock market’s Dow Jones industrial average was approaching its all-time high.
In today's News: Scholarships increase for Lutheran schools The St. Louis-based Lutheran Elementary School Association (LESA) will award a record $505,000 for need-based scholarships to help fund a 49 percent increase in qualified applications due in part to the covid-19 crisis. The increased need and funding amount mean LESA will award scholarships to 624 students of all faiths this year during the first round of awards, compared to 371 in 2019-20 school year. The additional funds were made possible by endowment earnings, extraordinary gifts from LESA's donors, and the unprecedented success of its first-ever Cooking For Kids online auction, which raised a record $263,000 (a 25 percent increase over last year) to support scholarships and services for LESA member schools. In addition, a generous family redirected their $50,000 annual endowment gift to be applied exclusively to scholarships due to the pandemic. Since 2004, LESA has awarded more than $5.5 million in financial assistance through its building blocks scholarship fund to children of all faiths enrolled in Lutheran elementary schools. More than 8,300 students attend LESA-member Lutheran schools in the St. Louis metro area, making it the second largest private school system in the bi-state region. Justice Department supports faith-based adoption The U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a Catholic foster care agency because it refuses to compromise its religious beliefs by placing children with same-sex couples. The Supreme Court agreed to review Sharonell Fulton, et al. V. City of Philadelphia and oral argument is expected in the fall. In March 2018, the city canceled its contracts with Catholic Social Services due to its religious beliefs about marriage, not long after the city issued an urgent call for 300 families to provide foster care to help care for the flood of children coming into the system due to the opioid crisis. The city then prohibited Catholic Social Services from placing any more children with the families it had already certified, in order to investigate whether the agency had violated the city’s fair practices ordinance, a policy that prohibits “discrimination” on the basis of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.” There are currently 6,000 foster children in the city of Philadelphia and dozens of families licensed to foster through Catholic Social Services who are willing to take in children. However, as a result of the city’s actions, their beds have remained empty for two years. Senator call for investigation of speech double standards Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri called for an investigation into free speech double standards, saying that state officials have favored protests while targeting religious freedom. Hawley asked Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice in a Tuesday letter to launch a “full civil rights investigation” into violations of “free exercise and free speech rights of religious Americans.” The move came as lawmakers such as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy refrained from telling protesters to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic.
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