National Briefs

Evidence Mounts for Viability of Babies not Considered Legally “Human”

(WNS)–A new study published Sept. 8 found that more infants born before 28 weeks gestation are surviving without disease or other complications compared to 20 years ago. The findings cast further doubt on the adequacy of the viability standard for protecting the unborn.  The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined 35,000 premature births between 1993 and 2012 at 26 U.S. centers participating in the Neonatal Research Network. It broadens a previous study published in May that found an increased survival rate for infants born at 22 weeks. The May study examined 5,000 infants born at 27 weeks or earlier between 2006 and 2011.


Navy Stands Behind Chaplain Who Shared Christian Beliefs


(WNS)–The Navy has exonerated a highly decorated and respected chaplain, denying a formal request by his commanding officer to dismiss him from the military based on statements he made to sailors during private counseling sessions.  Chaplain Wesley Modder’s former commander, Capt. John Fahs, commanding officer of the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC) in Goose Creek, S.C., had sought to remove Modder because he expressed his Christian beliefs on issues of sexuality, marriage, and homosexuality during counseling sessions with sailors. But after reviewing the evidence, the Navy disapproved Fahs’ request.  The decision by the Navy’s Personnel Command also overrules a March 16 letter by Fahs in which he denied Modder’s formal request for religious accommodation under Navy regulations.


Pastor Defends Baptisms on High-School Football Field


(WNS)–A Georgia high school football coach is in hot water after organizing a baptism service on the field last month. A YouTube video of the service garnered national media attention and has led to questions about the event’s constitutionality.  On Aug. 17, Andy Szatkowski, the Villa Rica High School defensive coordinator, and 18 players were baptized before practice in a plastic tub-turned-baptismal-pool placed on the school’s football field. First Baptist Church Villa Rica’s senior pastor, Kevin Williams, helped orchestrate the event.  The church posted a video of the baptisms on its YouTube page with the caption, “Take a look and see how God is STILL in our schools!” according to WXIA-TV, the NBC news affiliate in Atlanta. A clip of the video shown on its Sept. 1 broadcast shows dozens of onlookers clapping and cheering as the students come up out of the water one by one.  The church removed the video on Sept. 2 after the story went viral.


Washington State High Court Strikes Down Charter School Law


(WNS)–The Washington Supreme Court struck down the state’s charter school law as unconstitutional in early September, leaving in limbo nearly 1,200 students currently enrolled in charter schools. The 6-3 ruling overturned a 2012 voter referendum legalizing charter schools. The majority opinion said charter schools are not “common” schools because they are controlled by boards, not local voters, and therefore cannot receive public funding. The court’s ruling takes effect in 20 days. One charter school opened its doors last fall, and an additional eight opened for the 2015-2016 school year weeks before the announcement.  “The court had this case in front of them since last October and waiting until students were attending public charter schools to issue their ruling is unconscionable,” said Joshua Halsey, head of the state Charter Schools Commission. He said his organization is evaluating its options.


Denver Discriminates Against Chick-fil-A Over CEO’s Marriage Beliefs

(WNS)–Several Denver City Council members want to stop Chick-fil-A from opening at Denver International Airport (DIA), claiming the fast food chain CEO’s support of “biblical marriage” would hurt the city’s reputation.  Chick-fil-A, along with several other potential vendors, applied for a seven-year concession lease at DIA’s Concourse B food court to replace the exiting Steak Escape. DIA concession officials chose Chick-fil-A to fill the spot because travelers gave the chicken sandwich chain the second highest number of votes in a 2013 survey about potential eatery options. Chipotle ranked first but did not apply for the lease, The Denver Post reported.

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