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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: Concordia alumni/student fights infant mortality  The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reports that Detroit’s infant mortality rate is 2.5 times higher than the national average, putting it on par with a developing nation. Three alumni and one current student at Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Mich., are attempting to reduce that mortality rate by working with the Luke Project 52 Clinic, which provides personalized prenatal and infant care at no cost to any family who needs it. The clinic was started in 2016 by the Rev. Brad Garrison, a Lutheran pastor and pharmacist, and his wife, Sherie, who has more than 40 years’ experience as a nurse.  Today is National Sanctity of Human Life Day  Before leaving office, President Donald Trump proclaimed today, Jan. 22, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day as it marks the 48th year since the U.S. Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton — the infamous abortion opinions that opened the door to kill unborn babies up to birth. Since 1973, more than 62-million unborn children have been killed in what should be the safest place — the womb. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating Jan. 22 as the National Sanctity of Human Life Day as the result of the influence of one woman, Dr. Mildred Jefferson, who worked tirelessly in support of personhood for every unborn child. Dr. Jefferson was the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School and the first female surgeon at the Boston University Medical Center.  Supreme Court may consider another abortion case  The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled today to consider a Mississippi law that protects unborn babies and mothers by banning abortions after 15 weeks. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch asked the high court to uphold the pro-life law last year, but the justices have not decided yet whether to take up the case. SCOTUS blog reports the justices did not act on the case during their private conference on Jan. 15, but they are scheduled to meet again today. Notably, today is the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that forced states to legalized abortion on demand. The Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, challenges the current legal precedent that blocks states from protecting unborn babies from abortions before they are viable.  Lawmakers move to protect women’s sports  Montana lawmakers have introduced a bill protecting girls’ sports in schools, after President Joe Biden signed an executive order forcing them to allow transgender biological males to compete with them. The Save Women’s Sports Act will require public school athletic teams to be designated based on biological sex. The bill cites testosterone levels and other differences between the genders that would create an unfair playing field for young girls to compete under Biden’s order.  Gender-confused victory in Alabama  A federal judge has ruled that an Alabama law requiring residents to provide proof of gender reassignment surgery before they can change the sex listed on their driver's license is unconstitutional.
In today's News: Biden’s committee funnels money to abortion/LGBT groups The Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee has listed Planned Parenthood and LGBT organizations as the beneficiaries of any donations made for the flags which took the place of spectators on the National Mall, as Biden marks his first day in office by emphasizing his links to abortion and LGBT ideology. Some of the groups mentioned include: Stonewall Community Development Corporation; Rainbow Family 808 Com Inc; Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund; National Center for Lesbian Rights; The Trevor Project; Wanda Alston Foundation; Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center; Howard Brown Health Center; Henderson Equality Center; Planned Parenthood Federation of America; LGBT Center of Greater Reading; Equality Maine Foundation; GLAAD. White House website now asks for pronouns Just hours after Democrat Joe Biden’s swearing-in as President of the United States, the official White House contact page has already been updated to ask users to include their preferred gender pronouns, another early gift to LGBT activists. Among the White House website contact page’s usual fields for name, prefix, phone number, and such is a new “pronouns” field, with the options “she/her,” “he/him,” “they/them,” “Other,” and “Prefer not to share.” The change is in line with the aggressively pro-LGBT platform Biden ran on, the centerpiece of which was forcing widespread accommodation of homosexuality and “gender fluidity” on private citizens by urging passage of the so-called Equality Act. During the campaign, he went so far as to endorse children as young as eight “deciding” they’re transgender, and earlier this week he chose Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine, a man who claims to be a woman, as Assistant Secretary of Health. Medical group affirms adoption In an updated statement published today, the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) affirms adoption as the best option for children who cannot be raised within their natural families. An appropriate adoptive family provides a child with love, permanency, stability, and the same legal rights as a child born into that family. Dr. Leah Wilson is a board-certified pediatrician, ACPeds director, and adoptive parent. She knows firsthand that an infant’s adoptive placement is a courageous, loving, and life-giving alternative to abortion. Dr. Wilson states, “Women experiencing a crisis pregnancy should receive counseling about options including open and semi-open adoption arrangements. Women considering abortion due to an adverse prenatal diagnosis should also be informed of the availability of adoptive families for children born with disabilities.” Governor vetoes pro-life legislation As expected, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a pro-life bill Tuesday that would give the attorney general power to hold abortion facilities accountable to basic health and safety standards. WAVE 3 News reports state House Bill 2 was one of five bills that the pro-abortion Democrat governor rejected this week. The others involved the governor’s powers in a crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic. Sponsored by state Rep. Joseph Fichter, R-Fort Thomas, the pro-life legislation would give the state attorney general power to hold abortion facilities accountable if they do not comply with state health regulations. Currently, that power rests with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which is led by the current governor’s appointee.
In today's News: Pro-Life Action League founder passes  Joe Scheidler, founder of the Pro-Life Action League, received his eternal reward Jan. 18 at the age of 93. He was affectionately dubbed the “godfather of the pro-life movement” and a “racketeer for life.” The announcement was made on social media by the Pro-Life Action League. Scheidler, a former Benedictine monk and journalism professor, was active in the pro-life movement for decades and may be best known for being a named plaintiff in the RICO lawsuit, NOW v. Scheidler, a landmark case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court three times. With help from the Thomas More Society, the plaintiffs, including Scheidler, prevailed in protecting the free speech rights of pro-lifers.  Oregon abortion business closes  An abortion business in Oregon that killed babies in abortions for almost 50 years has finally closed. Oregon’s largest independent and oldest abortion company, Lovejoy Surgicenter, has closed, just shy of 50 years in business. The abortion center killed babies in abortions up to 24 weeks into pregnancy, when unborn children are viable and can survive outside the womb. Lois Anderson, the director of Oregon Right to Life, told LifeNews.com she was excited by the news. Lovejoy Surgicenter conducts abortions through 24 weeks of pregnancy. Those done between 20-24 weeks, 5-6 months gestation, abortions are three-day procedures, according to the abortion facility’s website. These abortions carry more risks, and life-threatening complications can occur that the outpatient facility is not equipped to handle. However, the closing may be short lived. According to Anderson, a Seattle-based abortion practitioner has purchased the abortion center and will be reopening it in March. The Lovejoy web site indicates it will reopen at a new location on March 1, “under new management.”  Court halts religious discrimination policy  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit’s decision last Friday to grant a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit A.H. v. French that stops Vermont officials from excluding religious-school students from the state’s dual enrollment program, which had allowed public, private secular and home-school students to enroll at not cost to them in two college courses before graduating high school but denies that same opportunity to religious-school students. Attorneys for a high school student, her parents and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington filed the lawsuit in district court. They argued that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue and in the Alliance Defending Freedom caseTrinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, support ending Vermont’s discrimination in its dual enrollment program.  Transgender law put on hold  A federal court in North Dakota just blocked a requirement known as the transgender mandate that would force medical professionals and religious hospitals to perform gender transition procedures on their patients — including children — even when the procedures are potentially harmful.
In today's News: National Sanctity of Human Life Day is proclaimed  Ahead of his departure from the White House tomorrow, President Donald Trump Sunday issued a presidential proclamation recognizing this Friday as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. This year marks the fourth year in a row that Trump has recognized National Sanctity of Human Life Day in January. Jan. 22 marks the 48th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling making abortion a national right. The president used the proclamation to speak out against the landmark 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade, tout his administration’s accomplishments on behalf of the pro-life movement and call on the American people to respect the sanctity of life. The proclamation praises the activism of the pro-life movement and its advocates, who support policy initiatives that restrict the legality of abortion.  Ban on aborting Down Syndrome abortions proposed  In her Jan. 12 State of the State address, conservative South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced that she is calling on the state Legislature to pass a law that would ban the killing of unborn children by abortion just because they have Down syndrome. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Down syndrome continues to be the most common chromosomal disorder. Each year, about 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome, which is about one in every 700 babies born."  Charges dismissed against church deacon  Thomas More Society attorneys achieved victory for a Moscow, Idaho, church deacon who was wrongly arrested on Sept. 23, 2020, for singing while not wearing a mask at a church-sponsored “Psalm Sing” in the Moscow City Hall parking lot. On Jan. 9, the Idaho District Court signed the order dismissing charges against Gabriel Rench, one of three people arrested among the almost 200 attending the event. The September gathering at which Rench and other churchgoers were arrested was hosted by Christ Church as one of the congregation’s monthly hymn sings. This particular event was held outside City Hall in response to the extension of a restrictive COVID-19-prompted mask mandate imposed by Moscow’s mayor.  Christians make up 88 percent of Congress  The 117th United States Congress is made up of 88 percent Christians, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. In a report called “Faith on the Hill,” the Pew Research Center analyzed the religious affiliations of all members of the 117th Congress and compared them to the religious demographics of the U.S. as a whole. Pew obtained the data from a questionnaire conducted by CQ Roll Call asking members about their religious backgrounds. The publication of the Pew report came just one day after the 117th Congress was sworn into session on Jan. 3. Pew has been analyzing the religious composition of members of Congress since the 111th Congress, which met from 2009 to 2011. While the House of Representatives has 435 members and the Senate has 100 members, two House seats and two Senate seats were either vacant or undecided as of Jan. 4, when the report was published, leaving the number of senators and representatives analyzed at 531.
In today's News: Wedding photographer fights state law  Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is arguing today in federal district court in a Virginia photographer’s lawsuit against state officials. The lawsuit challenges a state law, enacted July 1, 2020, that forces Bob Updegrove to use his artistic talents to photograph same-sex weddings if he photographs weddings between one man and one woman. As explained in ADF’s complaint, that law violates foundational rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment’s Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses. ADF attorneys have asked the court to enter an injunction halting enforcement of the law against Updegrove while his lawsuit proceeds, and the state has moved to dismiss the case. The law also forbids Updegrove from publicly explaining on his studio’s own website the religious reasons why he only celebrates wedding ceremonies between one man and one woman. Virginia considers such communications “discriminatory.” The law threatens initial fines of up to $50,000 and then $100,000 per additional violation, along with court orders that could force Updegrove to photograph events against his conscience if he wants to stay in business.  School district considers posting Ten Commandments  A North Carolina school board is exploring the possibility of putting Ten Commandments displays near the entrances at each of its school buildings, a possibility that has upset a secular legal group. The Cleveland County School Board first discussed the idea at its Dec. 14 board meeting, drawing support and criticism in the last week from opposing national First Amendment legal groups. Supporters of the measure contend that displays of the Ten Commandments on school grounds are permitted by North Carolina law, as long as they are accompanied by other historical displays. advocates for a strict separation of church and state, sent a letter to Cleveland County School District attorney Colin Shive. In the letter, Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened legal action against the school district if the push to erect the Ten Commandments displays at its schools was not scrapped.  State’s abortion law challenged by women’s group  Women in New York filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a radical pro-abortion law that legalizes abortions for basically any reason up to birth in the Empire State. The class action lawsuit argues that the New York Reproductive Health Act, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019, puts women in danger and violates the fundamental rights of women and children, including unborn babies who can survive outside the womb. Along with expanding late-term abortions, the law repealed criminal charges for killing an unborn baby even in a violent criminal act against the mother. In the lawsuit, victims of domestic abuse slammed New York for denying them and their children justice, the Catholic News Agency reports.  Pro-life student group wins suit  Oregon’s Chemeketa Community College has settled a federal lawsuit with a pro-life student group by agreeing to pay $25,000 to cover the cost of legal fees and end a policy confining free speech to a small area of campus. The Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal group representing the Chemeketa Students for Life, announced the settlement last Friday. Before the settlement, which is dated Nov. 10, the college limited outdoor free speech in two small areas of campus. According to the legal group, the taxpayer funded school’s policies restricted the free speech rights of students to just 1.5 percent of the school’s 100-acre campus.
In today's News: Christian persecution up worldwide 2020 continued a trend of rising persecution around the world, with governments often using COVID-19 restrictions as tools of repression, Christian persecution watchdog Open Doors USA announced in its annual report. Open Doors' 2021 report revealed two important persecution trends in 2020. The number of Christians killed has increased by 60 percent this year, mostly because of Islamic violence against Nigerian Christians. Secondly, anti-Christian governments around the world use COVID-19 restrictions to persecute Christians. In Nigeria, more than 2,200 Christians were murdered by radical Islamists. This number makes up slightly less than half of the 4,761 Christians killed for their faith worldwide, according to Open Doors statistics. Most of the Christians killed in 2020 gave up their lives to extremist groups, not governments. New York considers assisted suicide The state of New York is one of the latest to consider embracing assisted suicide. Senate Bill S3151A, or the Medical Aid in Dying Act, was originally introduced in 2017, but died in committee in March of 2018. Another version failed in 2019, yet Assemblyman Kevin Cahill has announced his intentions to resubmit the bill for consideration in 2021 — and one Planned Parenthood political action affiliate is showing its support. Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts released its 2021 legislative priorities, which largely consisted of expanding abortion — but buried at the bottom was a passage linking abortion and assisted suicide under the “bodily autonomy” umbrella. North Dakota considers spiritual advisors must break confidentiality Three North Dakota state legislators introduced a bill this week that would oblige clergy to violate the confidentiality in cases of confirmed or suspected child abuse, on penalty of imprisonment or heavy fines. The bill was introduced Jan. 12 by state senators Judy Lee, Kathy Hogan and Curt Kreun, and state representatives Mike Brandenburg and Mary Schneider. The current mandatory reporting law in North Dakota states that clergy are considered mandatory reporters of known or suspected child abuse, except in cases when “the knowledge or suspicion is derived from information received in the capacity of spiritual adviser”, such as in the confessional. The bill, SB 2180, would amend that law to abolish this exception. Supreme Court rules against mail in abortion drugs The United States Supreme Court reinstated a requirement enacted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that women seeking to obtain abortion drugs must pick them up in person from a hospital or medical office rather than receiving them by mail. The High Court ruled 6-3 in Food and Drug Administration v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that the FDA abortion drug rule may go into effect and lifted a nationwide injunction against it. It granted the FDA request to reinstate enforcement for the “Elements to Assure Safe Use” in the Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for the chemical abortion pill mifepristone.
In today's News: Abortions stop in Missouri  Operation Rescue believes Planned Parenthood in St. Louis has stopped performing abortions and has done none in months. Instead, the group found that the St. Louis facility is referring women to a new Planned Parenthood a few miles across the border in Illinois for abortions. The St. Louis facility still has a license to do abortions, but it is choosing not to. An Operation Rescue spokesman said he believes the reason is because Planned Parenthood does not want to comply with Missouri’s pro-life laws. The St. Louis facility had a poor reputation. Operation Rescue documented 75 medical emergencies at the facility over the past several years. In 2019, state health leaders tried to revoke its license, citing “multiple life-threatening abortions,” but a state commissioner ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood.  Ohio bans abortion drugs by telemedicine  On Saturday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill banning the use of telemedicine to administer the abortion pill in the state. The bill, SB 260, would effectively ban telemedicine abortions in Ohio by requiring that a physician be present when the first of the two drugs in the abortion pill regimen is administered to a woman. Failure to abide by this law could result in a fourth-degree felony, and repeated violations of the law could result in the suspension of the offending physician’s medical license. According to the FDA, at least 24 known women have died from complications associated with the abortion pill and countless women have shared their personal stories of the horrific effects they have endured after taking the abortion pill regimen. Despite claims that the abortion pill is as “safe as Tylenol,” it carries with it a four times greater risk of complications than a first trimester surgical abortion.  Supreme Court sidesteps a First Amendment case  The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped an opportunity to rule on behalf of the First Amendment right for pro-life speech around abortion centers. The Supreme Court declined to hear Bruni v. City of Pittsburgh, which challenges a law enacted by the city that bans pro-life speech — even prayer — in painted 15-foot buffer zones outside medical facility entrances. The city then chose to paint such zones outside only two facilities in the entire metropolitan area, Pittsburgh’s two abortion centers, and enforced the ban against pro-life speech only. This bans the free speech of sidewalk counselors and those handing out literature informing pregnant women of resources available for them and their children. However, speech on other subjects has been permitted inside the zone. Despite the language of the ordinance and how it was applied, the lower court interpreted the ordinance in such a way that pro-life speech is permitted. And the lower courts did not apply the Supreme Court’s more recent precedent striking down restrictions on speech (Reed v. Town of Gilbert) and pro-life speech outside an abortion clinic (McCullen v. Coakley), and instead relied upon the older case of Hill v. Colorado.
In today's News: Turkey rejects an American pastor’s appeal  Turkey’s constitutional court last week rejected as “inadmissible” American Pastor Andrew Brunson’s appeal over rights violation for unlawfully arresting him and exceeding the legal limit of his detention. He was imprisoned for his faith for two years in that country. Although he now lives in the United States, the prison sentence against Brunson, who was arrested in October 2016 and charged with espionage and committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization as a non-member, remains. Brunson's appeal was made on the basis that his arrest was illegal and beyond the legal limit of detention.  Court rules in favor of a Christian club  A Christian afterschool ministry tied to The Moody Church in Chicago is sufficiently religious enough to qualify for an exemption from having to pay into a state insurance program, an appeals court ruled last week. A three-judge panel of the Appellate Court of Illinois on Wednesday upheld a lower court decision and ruled 2-1 that the By The Hand Club for Kids should have been given an exemption to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Act. The Illinois Department of Employment Security’s Board of Review concluded in 2017 that the By The Hand Club was not eligible for an exemption to the state unemployment insurance system. In the majority opinion authored by Justice Margaret McBride, the court ruled that the board of review failed to recognize the pervasive religious nature of the student club. This included the club requiring members and staff to be Christian, hosting Bible studies and chapel services and leading field trips to faith-based events like Christian music concerts.  Judges ask Supreme Court to revisit an abortion ruling  A three-judge panel on a federal appellate court struck down several pro-life laws in Arkansas, and two of the judges have called on the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its ruling in a major abortion case that upheld Roe v. Wade. The ruling by three judges on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals prevents two pro-life laws passed by the state in 2019 from going into effect. One of the laws prohibits abortions after 18 week’s gestation while the other prohibits abortion of a child based solely on a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Judge James Loken, a George H.W. Bush appointee who authored the opinion, cited the precedent set in the 1992 Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey when upholding a lower court’s ruling blocking the Arkansas laws from going into effect. While the panel unanimously agreed that Supreme Court precedent required them to strike down the Arkansas laws, two of the judges urged the court to reconsider the finding of Casey. One of the judges, George W. Bush appointee Bobby Shepherd, shared his view that “good reasons exist for the (Supreme) Court to reevaluate its jurisprudence” in Casey.  Satanic Temple opposes burial for aborted babies  The Satanic Temple, a group that believes abortion is a “religious ritual” similar to communion or baptism, is fighting against a new Ohio law that ensures aborted babies receive a proper burial. WLWT 5 News reports the religious group slammed the law as a violation of the First Amendment last week and threatened to take legal action. Signed by Gov. Mike DeWine in December, the law requires the Ohio Department of Health to establish rules for the proper and humane burial or cremation of aborted babies’ bodies. It creates penalties for violations and requires abortion facilities to pay for the babies to be cremated or buried. Several states have similar laws in place, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s law in 2019. Such laws not only ensure that aborted babies’ bodies are treated with dignity and respect, they also are a safeguard against abortion facilities trying to sell aborted baby body parts. However, the Satanic Temple claims the Ohio law violates their religious freedom.
In today's News: LCMS schools face the new year  Jan. 24–30 — offers LCMS schools a yearly opportunity to reflect on and share the blessings of Christian education. This year, amid many challenges, they will have many blessings to celebrate. Currently, the LCMS has 1,914 schools across the nation, serving more than 190,000 students. In the past year, these schools have had to make unexpected adjustments in order to continue their mission and ministry. A testament to their hard work is that enrollment trends are up in many Lutheran schools following the onset of the pandemic. The 2021 NLSW theme is “Sent To Serve,” based on Matt. 20:28: “The son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Texas cuts off Planned Parenthood  Starting in February, the state of Texas will no longer be required to award Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood, thanks to a November decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. After the abortion giant requested a six-month grace period for patients to find new providers while still receiving care, the court denied this request but allowed for a 30-day grace period ending Feb. 3. The 5th Circuit and Texas attorney general based this decision in part on Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the illegal trafficking of aborted baby body parts that came to light in 2015. In 2013, Planned Parenthood was fined $1.4 million for fraudulently over-billing the Texas state Medicaid program, as reported by Live Action News.  Abortions increase in Pennsylvania  A new report from the Pennsylvania Department of Health reveals that that in 2019, there were 654 more abortions in the state than in 2018. This marks the second year in a row that the state saw an increase in abortions, and the first time since 2001 that there was an increase in two consecutive years. Altogether, more than 31,000 abortions were committed in the state in 2019, which means that an average of 85 babies died by abortion each day. The majority of those abortions were committed on women ages 25 to 29, and nearly 88 percent of the women were reported as unmarried. More than 47 percent of the abortions were committed on women who already had at least one prior abortion. The report also reveals that 44 percent of abortions were committed on black women, though nationwide, the black community comprises just 12 percent of the population. Additionally, there was an alarming increase in reported abortion complications. The state recorded 285 abortion complications for 2019, significantly higher than the 179 injuries documented in 2018.  U.S. reforms child welfare providers regulations  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ final rule issued last week that eliminates a federal regulation from the previous administration that forced child welfare providers to abandon their deeply held religious beliefs to continue receiving federal funding to serve children in need. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Catholic Charities West Michigan and New Hope Family Services in New York, both adoption and foster care providers, in federal lawsuits against state officials.
In today's News: Concordia Seminary offers online visitations Two online visitation events are scheduled for February at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; one for high school men, and another for college-age and second-career prospective students planning to study to become pastors and deaconesses. Registration is now open for Taste of the Sem for high school men Feb. 13-15 and Green & Gold Day for prospective students planning to study to become pastors and deaconesses Feb. 20. The events are typically held in person but have been moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Both events are free. Pro-abortion Democrats take the Senate Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff defeated Incumbent Republican Georgia Sen. David Perdue in Tuesday’s runoff election. The victory for the pro-abortion Democrat over the pro-life senator essentially puts the Senate in democrat hands by giving pro-abortion radical Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote if she becomes vice president. With both senators losing their races, the Senate will have a 50-50 party split, and, if she’s vice-president, Harris, a pro-abortion Democrat, would cast the deciding vote on issues like forcing taxpayers to fund abortions and expanding late-term abortions. Study shows gender dysphoric men outperform women Biological men who identify as women continue to outperform biologically-female athletes for at least two years after they begin receiving “feminizing therapy” (female hormones), a new study shows. “The results, published last month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, could mean the current one-year waiting period for Olympic athletes who are transitioning is inadequate,” NBC reported on Tuesday. States seeking to ban transgender athletes from competing against biological females in school sports are citing the study to document that athletes born as biological males have an unfair advantage over biological females. California defines women’s breasts as ‘abnormal’ The California insurance commissioner is clarifying that insurance coverage on double mastectomies for gender dysphoric females is not "cosmetic" but "reconstructive," and classifying normal breast tissue as "abnormal structures of the body caused by congenital defects." The move paves the way for more minor girls who identify as something other than their biological sex to undergo breast amputation. Arguments heard on the ‘Ministerial Exception’ The highest court in Massachusetts heard oral arguments on Monday regarding whether an evangelical Christian higher education institution can lawfully refuse to promote a former professor who held pro-LGBT views. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments virtually over a lawsuit filed against Gordon College by former associate professor Margaret Deweese-Boyd. At issue is whether Gordon, founded in 1889, could lawfully deny a promotion to Deweese-Boyd by citing the “ministerial exception,” a legal principle that allows religious bodies to choose their own ministerial staff with exemption from employment discrimination law. Eric Baxter, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty who is representing the school, argued in his opening remarks that the exception applied to the employment of Deweese-Boyd since she was expected to undertake certain religious obligations.
In today's News: Judge awards Planned Parenthood $13 million  A U.S. District judge with ties to Planned Parenthood has granted the abortion giant more than $13 million in “attorney fees and costs” despite the fact that attorneys are currently working to appeal the ruling, according to Liberty Counsel. Judge William Orrick III’s connection to Planned Parenthood includes helping to open one of the abortion corporation’s facilities. Despite this conflict of interest, he refused to recuse himself from the civil trial of Planned Parenthood v. The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) regarding CMP’s undercover journalism, which exposed the illegal sales of fetal organs and tissues. The $13 million Orrick awarded Planned Parenthood is in addition to the more than $2 million the jury had awarded the corporation after finding for the plaintiff on all counts in the civil case. That ruling came after Orrick instructed the jury not to consider the First Amendment as a defense for CMP and journalists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt and blocked the jury from watching much of the undercover videos that revealed Planned Parenthood’s unethical and illegal actions. The jury found Daleiden, Merritt and CMP liable in their undercover journalism of Planned Parenthood in 2019, with Orrick determining that the journalists had trespassed when they attended Planned Parenthood events and visited facilities though they were welcomed into those arenas. The verdict was made against CMP even though Planned Parenthood employees admitted that their words in the videos were their own. Notably, Planned Parenthood has never sued CMP for defamation. With this latest move, Orrick appears to be sending a message to silence pro-lifers from continuing to expose the abortion industry for its horrific practices.  Satanic Temple billboards support abortion  The Satanic Temple is back after a failed attempt to overturn Missouri’s abortion laws, promoting its pro-abortion message on billboards. According to the Houston Chronicle, the temple erected billboards in Texas and Florida to raise awareness of its purported abortion “rituals” — and also to claim that pregnancy is dangerous. “Abortions save lives!” The billboard reads in large letters. Underneath, it says, “our religious abortion ritual averts many state restrictions.” The Satanic Temple’s so-called “abortion ritual” seems to have been created less out of actual spiritual fervor and more to skirt pro-life laws. During the rite, a Satanist merely recites personal affirmations in the mirror before and after an abortion procedure.   ‘Feliz Navidad’ for the unborn  Singer Jose Feliciano has expressed support for the pro-life movement, declaring that “even if all there is a heartbeat, that’s life.” Feliciano, who's blind and best known for his Christmas song “Feliz Navidad,” described his conversion to the pro-life movement in an interview with the National Catholic Register. “I used to be pro-abortion many, many years ago,” he recalled, “But then when I had my daughter Melissa, I went the other way … when I heard Melissa’s little heartbeat on the monitor, I said, ‘well, wait a minute. Even if all there is a heartbeat, that’s life’.”
In today's News: Planned Parenthood’s ‘wish list’  Planned Parenthood is preparing its wish list for former Vice President Joe Biden’s prospective administration, but pro-life forces are gearing up for a fight. In a Roll Call interview, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said her organization’s top goal in 2021 is abolishing the Hyde Amendment, which for 40 years has prohibited federal funding for most abortions. The Hyde Amendment is named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois who sponsored the Amendment, first adopted in 1976. In a statement to The Daily Signal, Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life, said she is concerned about the obvious pro-abortion trajectory of a Biden Administration.  Pro-lifers sing Christmas carols at an abortion center  Pro-lifers greeted women with Christmas carols and messages of hope for them and their unborn babies on Saturday outside an abortion facility in Alexandria, Virginia. The Arlington Catholic Herald reports pro-life sidewalk counselors faithfully show up every Saturday outside the Alexandria Women’s Health Center to pray and offer information to pregnant women considering abortions. On Dec. 19, their outreach included Christmas carols as part of the national “Peace in the Womb Pro-Life Christmas Caroling” event, a project of the Pro-Life Action League.  Proposed abortion law faces opposition  New Jersey pro-lifers gathered in the cold Saturday to protest a radical pro-abortion bill that would legalize the killing of unborn babies up to birth and force taxpayers to pay for their deaths. Tap Into Union reports about 50 people protested outside the offices of State Sen. Joseph Cryan, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Assemblyman Jamel Holley, urging them to reject the pro-abortion legislation and support life. They also listened to women’s testimonies and sang Christmas carols. A pet project of pro-abortion Gov. Phil Murphy, the bill would legalize the killing of unborn babies for basically any reason up to birth.  LA county lifts restrictions on worship  Los Angeles County recently announced that it was allowing houses of worship to hold both indoor and outdoor services, reversing an earlier ban on indoor services. In a statement Saturday, the county government explained that the decision to allow the services comes due to recent legal decisions from the United States Supreme Court. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two orders in which it overturned state-level restrictions on in-person worship in Colorado and New Jersey, respectively.  Biological Sex on Birth Certificates Reconsidered The New England Journal of Medicine joined the ranks of medical institutions elevating “social justice” above sound medicine last week with the publication of an article calling for “rethinking” how biological sex is recorded on birth certificates. The authors go so far as to claim that “sex designations on birth certificates offer no clinical utility; they serve only legal — not medical — goals,” while potentially inviting “scrutiny” and “shame,” as well as thwarting gender-confused individuals’ ability to access opposite-sex locker or shower facilities or serve in the military.
In today's News: Virginia Christians oppose new law  Churches, ministries, schools and Christian-owned businesses from across the state of Virginia signed an open letter to Gov. Ralph Northam and members of the Virginia General Assembly that urges them not to force religious citizens to violate their beliefs under the so-called “Virginia Values Act.” The law, enacted July 1, on its face compels churches, religious schools and Christian ministries to hire employees who do not share their stated beliefs on marriage, sexuality and gender identity — or face fines of up to $100,000 for each violation. A companion law requires the ministries and other Christian nonprofits and Christian-owned businesses to include in employee health care plans coverage for “sex reassignment” and “gender affirming” surgeries that run contrary to their beliefs. It also prohibits the ministries from offering sex-specific sports, classes for parenting and Christian discipleship, if those programs are based on biological sex.  Medicaid money withheld from California  Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that his department was taking action against California and a hospital in Vermont that implemented policies violating the conscience rights of those opposed to abortion. Azar was among many notable speakers at a White House event, called “Life Is Winning: Celebrating 4 Years of Pro-Life Accomplishments,” hosted by Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday. During his speech, Azar highlighted how the Trump administration was “protecting conscience rights more aggressively than any previous administration in history." He went on to announce that $200 million in federal Medicaid funds would be withheld from California for the first quarter of 2021 due to the state's refusal to amend its policy "imposing universal abortion coverage mandates on health insurance."  Pro-abortion Representative to Biden’s Cabinet  A New Mexico Congresswoman who was accused of defaming young, pro-life teenagers at the march for life is President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for Secretary of the Interior. The Hill reports Biden nominated U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, a pro-abortion Democrat, to join his Cabinet this week. Haaland has a 100-percent pro-abortion voting record, according to the National Right to Life Committee. Her votes include opposing "The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act," which would protect newborn babies from infanticide. Haaland was sued for defamation in 2019 after she trashed pro-life teenager Nick Sandmann and other high school students who were attending the March for Life, the Los Alamos Monitor reports.  D.C. mayor backs off Christmas restrictions  Democratic D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has eased restrictions on houses of worship following a lawsuit by the Catholic Church accusing the Democrat of “arbitrary” and “discriminatory” restrictions on churches ahead of Christmas. In a lawsuit filed Dec. 11, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington said Bowser’s restrictions “bear no relation to either the size of the building or the safety of the activity” and “single out religious worship as a disfavored activity, even though it has been proven safer than many other activities the district favors.” Bowser modified the city’s attendance limits in a Wednesday order, removing the 50-person limit for religious gatherings and instead capping places of worship at 25 percent capacity with a maximum of 250 people.
In today's News: Arkansas pro-life laws allowed The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Little Rock, Ark., decided on Tuesday that it will not reconsider its earlier decision from this summer to lift a judge’s injunction against four Arkansas abortion restrictions. The court was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center For Reproductive Rights on behalf Of Little Rock abortionist, Frederick Hopkins, after its August decision to allow four Arkansas abortion restriction laws to take effect. Among the four restrictions previously blocked by a judge is a ban on second trimester dismemberment abortion procedures. Additionally, the court lifted the judge’s injunction against a sex-selective abortion ban, a measure specifying how aborted babies’ remains are to be disposed of, and a requirement that police must be notified, and fetal remains must be preserved from abortions committed on girls younger than age 14. Abortionist fined for false advertising A complaint filed by Reprotection, Inc. With Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office has resulted in fines for a Florida abortionist. Earlier in 2020, Reprotection Lodged a complaint against James Pendergraft, owner of the Orlando Women’s Center, for falsely advertising that it operated in Indiana. The complaint led to legal action brought by Attorney General Hill against the Florida-based abortion vendor. This resulted in a civil penalty fine of $9,000 for violating the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act. Reprotection, Inc. filed the complaint after discovering webpages by the Florida abortion business claiming to do abortions in various Indiana cities, including Muncie. Further, the advertising inferred that the dangerous chemical abortion pill could be administered in one day, which is not in compliance with FDA guidelines. Administration’s pro-life record praised President Donald Trump’s administration has been focused on protecting and fighting for the right to life, Vice President Mike Pence said yesterday. Pence’s remarks were delivered at a “Life Is Winning Event,” where the vice president highlighted the Trump administration’s pro-life accomplishments with leaders of the pro-life movement, including Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, Tom McClusky of the March For Life, David Daleiden of The Center for Medical Progress and Abby Johnson of And Then There Were None. Pence touted the administration’s reinstating of the Mexico City Policy, which ended government funding for abortions globally. Nevada churches win Nevada cannot impose on churches greater public health restrictions than those applied to secular businesses, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in a victory for religious Nevadans. As previously covered by LifeSiteNews, Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v Sisolak concerns a case made by Calvary Chapel, an evangelical church, that Nevada is unlawfully discriminating against houses of worship by allowing several public facilities, including casinos, to fill with crowds to 50 percent capacity while restricting religious gatherings to 50 people, no matter how large the building. In Calvary’s case, 50 percent capacity would be 90 people. This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 against taking the case, letting the restrictions stand. But a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit unanimously sided with the church on Tuesday, courthouse news reports. In reaching their decision, the judges relied on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last month in favor of catholic diocese of Brooklyn against similar capacity limits imposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In today's News: NSLA School Shepherd Award given  The Rev. Jonathan Dinger, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church and School in Pocatello, Idaho, was selected by national Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA) as the recipient of the 2020 NLSA School Shepherd Award. This award honors “a faithful pastor who provides outstanding encouragement, support and service to his school,” and who is able to “understand and articulate a clear philosophy of Lutheran education and provide spiritual encouragement, guidance and support for the schools entrusted to his care,” according to NLSA. Dinger is a graduate of Concordia University, Portland, Ore., and of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Prior to his Seminary studies, he served as a high school teacher for several years. He has served as Grace Lutheran’s pastor since 2007. Dinger was nominated by the NLSA validation team and endorsed by the LCMS Northwest District, then selected from among various nominees by the NLSA Selection Committee.  Religious identity in America declines  The most common religious identity among young adults in the U.S. is "none," and the majority of Americans don’t believe it’s necessary for a person to believe in God to be moral and have good values, a new survey has found. Released yesterday, the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life investigating contemporary religion in the U.S. found that among young adults age 18 to 29, the most common religious identity today is “none.” More than one in three young adults are religiously unaffiliated. Nearly nine in 10 Americans report they believe in God, but just over half report they believe in God without any doubts at all. Of these, more than eight in 10 white evangelical protestants and black protestants say they are absolutely certain God exists. Overall, 42 percent of Americans have a close social connection with someone who is religiously unaffiliated — up from 18 percent in 2004. Additionally, most Americans say it's not necessary for a person to believe in God to be moral and have good values. Close to six in 10 Americans say a belief in God is not a precondition to being moral and having good values, while 41 percent of the public say a belief in God is essential.  Court asked to reinstate abortion pill restrictions  The Trump administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a requirement that women visit a medical facility to obtain abortion-inducing pills, seeking to lift a lower-court order that has allowed delivery by mail during the pandemic. The filing yesterday renews a request the court temporarily rejected in October, when it was shorthanded after the death of justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Supreme Court now has a stronger conservative majority with Justice Amy Coney Barrett having filled Ginsburg’s seat.  Informed consent law blocked  A Tennessee law that ensures women are not rushed into aborting their unborn babies will remain blocked after a federal judge ruled Monday. The AP reports U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman refused to lift his block on the state 48-hour waiting period law, which requires abortion facilities to provide informed consent counseling to women at least two days prior to an abortion.
In today's News: Religious schools’ accreditation threatened  The Human Rights Campaign — a large, influential LGBTQ advocacy group — recently released a policy brief with recommendations for a Biden administration, and the suggestions are alarming. The organization’s “Blueprint for Positive Change 2020” describes itself as “a comprehensive list of 85 individual policy recommendations aimed at improving the lives of LGBTQ people.” One of the more alarming suggestions from the organization’s proposal concerns accreditation for religious schools and universities. It states, “the Department of Education should issue a regulation clarifying that this provision, which requires accreditation agencies to ‘respect the stated mission’ of religious institutions, does not require the accreditation of religious institutions that do not meet neutral accreditation standards including nondiscrimination policies and scientific curriculum requirements.”  Native American casinos are exempt  Dec. 3 the office of Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a conditional stay-at-home order which went into effect Dec. 5, giving every region in the state 24 hours from the point its Intensive Care Unit capacity falls below 15 percent to implement the restrictions in the order. Once triggered, the order that restricts residents from gathering, limits grocery stores to 35 percent and retailers to 20 percent capacity; and shuts down bars, salons, indoor and outdoor restaurants, among others, will be in effect for thee weeks. Unlike the rest of the businesses, Native American tribes are not required to follow state’s orders as they are sovereign nations, so Native American casinos are not affected by the governor’s order.  Bill in Congress would defend women’s sports  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma introduced a bill Thursday banning transgender females — people who were born male — from taking part in women’s sports. The Protect Women’s Sports Act would clarify Title IX for female athletes based on biological sex and require that only biological females can participate in women’s sports.  State capitols display Nativity scenes  Baby Jesus is present at the Iowa statehouse this Christmas season. Starting with an opening ceremony on Dec. 12 and remaining through Dec. 26, a traditional Christian crèche is on display in the first-floor rotunda in Des Moines. The Thomas More Society, a national not-for-profit law firm, has teamed up again with the American Nativity Scene to help keep privately funded manger scenes in the public square for Christmas. The following state capitols featured a nativity scene in 2019: Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Additionally, during Christmas 2020, manger displays will be featured in Idaho, Oklahoma, Nevada and West Virginia, with newly participating states still being added.
In today's News: Church wins discrimination case  Yesterday, a California Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction protecting Father Trevor Burfitt and his Catholic parishes from the discrimination being heaped on them by Gov. Gavin Newsom and those under his authority in the name of COVID-19 prevention. Thomas More Society attorneys are representing Burfitt in his suit against Newsom and other state, county, and municipal officials. Judge Gregory Pulskamp issued the order yesterday, prohibiting Newsom and the others named in the lawsuit from enforcing COVID-19 related restrictions against Burfitt. The court specifically singled out the provisions of Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and his regional Stay At Home order as failing to treat houses of worship in a manner “equal to the favored class of entities.”  Governor tells worshipers how to pray  Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was widely rebuked for telling churchgoers during a press conference this week how they should worship. In discussing the latest COVID-19 restrictions in the Commonwealth, the governor turned his attention to the religious holidays celebrated this month, noting they are “typically times of joy and community.”  Florida free speech law is hailed  A nationwide pro-life student organization has expressed support for a newly signed law in Florida prohibiting public colleges from creating so-called "free speech zones" to limit on-campus speech. Earlier this week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 4 into law, which prohibited public colleges from creating "free speech zones" on campus. Florida became the ninth state to pass such legislation, joining Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.  Born-Alive Bill in the U.S. House A Democratic congresswoman has introduced a “Born-Alive” bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, attempting to protect babies born after a failed abortion attempt. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who was a contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has offered H.R. 8923, which aims to amend Title 18 of the United States Code “to ensure a health care practitioner exercises the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion.” The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.  Woman Injured at Manhattan Planned Parenthood For the fifth time this year, a woman who was a client of the Manhattan Planned Parenthood abortion facility was transported by ambulance to a hospital emergency room. This is the 38th such medical emergency documented by Operation Rescue with the help of local pro-life activists. The incident occurred on last Tuesday just before 11 a.m. according to pro-life activists on the scene, the emergency workers entered the Planned Parenthood facility and came out about ten minutes later with a woman on a gurney completely covered with a sheet. She was loaded into an ambulance marked “Lennox Health, Greenwich Village, Northwell Health,” and was transported immediately away from the scene.  The ambulance only activated its sirens after it was about a block away from the Manhattan Planned Parenthood facility.
In today's News: Attendance is up at Concordia, Ann Arbor. Despite pandemic-driven plunges in undergraduate enrollment for colleges nationwide, Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Mich., has reason to celebrate this year with a record high enrollment. The fall 2020 total undergraduate enrollment count is — 1,010 — is up 34 students from last fall’s census number, and the 250-person freshman class beats out last year’s total by 27. The freshman class also has the highest average GPA since the merge with the Mequon campus in 2013. Senator opposes pro-abortion Cabinet selection Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called out the hard-line, pro-abortion stance of former Vice President Joe Biden’s pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in his administration, saying he would “hate to have” Xavier Becerra in charge of dispensing government money for late-term abortion. On Monday, Biden announced his selection of Becerra, the Democrat attorney general of California, to serve as his HHS secretary. Ohio to recognize the personhood of aborted babies An Ohio bill recognizing the humanity of unborn babies killed in abortions is on its way to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk after The State Senate passed it Wednesday. The final vote on the Unborn Child Dignity Act was 23-7, according to cleveland.com. The State House passed the bill last week, and DeWine, a pro-life Republican, is expected to sign it into law. The legislation requires the Ohio Department of Health to establish rules for the proper and humane burial or cremation of unborn babies who are killed in abortions. It creates penalties for violations and requires abortion facilities to pay for the babies to be cremated or buried. Such laws not only ensure that aborted babies’ bodies are treated with dignity and respect, they also are a safeguard against abortion facilities trying to sell aborted baby body parts. Colorado’s governor says worship is ‘essential’ Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has finally dropped Colorado’s COVID-19 unconstitutional limits on religious gatherings and declared that houses of worship are essential and removed attendance caps on worship effective last Monday. Polis reversed course and took this action because of the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Liberty Counsel’s case of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry in California and the court’s ruling on Thanksgiving eve in favor of New York churches and synagogues. In-person worship restrictions thrown out on appeal The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court decision that upheld California’s restrictions on in-person worship gatherings and has ordered the lower court to reconsider the case considering recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings. In a lawsuit challenging California’s worship restriction, South Bay United Pentecostal Church, based in Chula Vista, Calif., argued that there was a double standard between the restrictions imposed on places of worship and restrictions imposed on secular businesses. The church, which draws 200-300 congregants, argued the disparity in treatment demonstrated hostility toward the right to worship guaranteed by the First Amendment and is therefore unconstitutional. Woke Grinch complains of neighbor’s Christmas lights In an anonymous letter sent to the home of Kim Hunt of St. Anthony, Minn., a person claiming to be one of Hunt’s neighbors chastised her and her husband for hanging up Christmas lights. The letter itself, obtained by Crime Watch Minneapolis and posted to social media Monday, suggested that innocuous displays such hunt’s constituted “a reminder of divisions that continue to run through our society” and “a reminder of systemic biases against our neighbors who don’t celebrate Christmas or who can’t afford to put up lights of their own.”
In today's News: Concordia Chicago delivers face masks  Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill., specially delivered 250 face masks to Holy Family School, Chicago, a university partner through Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation. Concordia River Forest Alumni Association launched their “buy one, give one” face mask initiative in June to support fellow graduates. Within the first 48 hours, alumni and friends purchased more than 100 masks. Proceeds from this initiative provide personal protective equipment to faculty and staff at university partner schools and support current undergraduates through the Gard Student Assistance Fund. Additional “mask drops” will be made in the future.  Christian student group is reinstated  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Bozeman High School students and their Christian student club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, have secured recognition of the student group as an official non-curricular club and policy revisions from Montana school district officials, allowing the group equal access to resources and the ability to recruit new members. The school responded by reinstating the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ official status as a non-curricular club and changing its policies to ensure that similar unconstitutional actions don’t occur in the future. Bozeman High School recognizes many different non-curricular clubs on campus, including the Climate Crisis Club, Sexuality and Gender Alliance, Human Rights Club, Project X2+ and Native American Club.  New Labor Department rules  The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a new rule intended to foster “full and equal participation” of religious groups as federal contractors. The final rule will become effective Jan. 8, two weeks before the presidential inauguration. It is the latest development in the long-running battle over how to balance religious rights with other, particularly LGBT, rights. The Trump administration’s focus on religious liberty has been hailed by conservatives and questioned as discriminatory by advocates of church-state separation and LGBT activists, who are concerned that religious exemptions will deprive same-sex couples' access to services.  Democrats claim abortion funding restriction is racist  House Democrats and their witnesses at an appropriations committee hearing yesterday characterized the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the federal government from funding abortions, as “clearly racist.” The Hyde Amendment prevents federal funding of abortions except “to save the life of the woman,” or in the case of incest or rape. It was passed in 1976 and was upheld by the Supreme Court in a 1980 ruling. The Hyde Amendment, which is a budget provision, has been passed every single year, no matter the party of the president or the party in control of congress. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who were pro-abortion presidents, signed appropriations bills that included the Hyde Amendment.
In today's News: LCMS may delay conventions  COVID-19 continues to impact both the world and the work of the church. Due to ongoing effects of the pandemic, some LCMS district presidents have expressed uncertainty that their district conventions will be able to convene at all during 2021. The LCMS Council of Presidents voted unanimously at their November 2020 meeting to encourage Lcms President The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison to put before congregations a proposal as per LCMS constitution to delay the 2022 Synod convention one year to 2023, thus extending the window for district conventions to include the calendar year 2022. Harrison also consulted with The Synod Board of Directors. The participation of each LCMS congregation in this deliberation and decision is vital as the Synod navigates this historic vote. While congregations can begin considering the issue immediately, instructions on the electronic voting process will be sent to member congregations by mail early in January; the vote, which requires participation of at least one quarter of the synod’s congregations, will conclude Feb. 15.  A House body considers funding abortion  Today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies is holding a virtual hearing to discuss the Hyde Amendment, which forbids federal tax dollars from being used to pay for abortion through the federal Medicaid program. The Hyde amendment is a rider that has been added to the House appropriations bill every year since it was first passed on Sept. 30, 1976. Every president since then has supported it, and it is credited with saving at least 2.4-million lives from abortion. Today’s hearing includes four witnesses, with only one being pro-life — Christina Bennett, communications director for the Family Institute of Connecticut.  Biden picks pro-abortion Cabinet Secretary  Presumed President-Elect Joe Biden has nominated California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra, who has no experience in health care, is known for his hostility towards pro-life activists. As California’s attorney general, Becerra was preceded by Biden’s pick for vice president, Kamala Harris. Together, Becerra and Harris persecuted pro-lifers, with David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt as the most notable examples. As lead investigators for the Center for Medical Progress, Daleiden and Merritt exposed Planned Parenthood’s participation in the illegal trafficking of aborted baby body parts.  Hawaii court hears atheist case  A Hawaiian court has heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by two atheist activists accusing two churches of not properly compensating local public schools for using their facilities. Last Friday, Calvary Chapel Central Oahu and One Love Ministries went before a state trial court to argue that they lawfully compensated the schools they met in on weekends. The two churches were represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative law firm that has argued religious liberty cases before The United States Supreme Court.
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