Oregon bakers pay fine after state seizes their bank accounts
(WNS)–On Monday, Aaron and Melissa Klein paid the state of Oregon $136,927.07—the fine levied against them for declining to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2013. The payment also included interest accrued since the couple lost their appeal in July. The Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, had asked the state to postpone collecting the fine while they continued the appeal process. But just weeks before Christmas, the state labor commissioner who brought the case against them seized their bank accounts.
Boston hospital expels doctor over LGBT views
(WNS)–A physician’s long battle for biblical values, public health, and freedom of expression in his workplace has come to a conclusion. After more than 10 years of tension and conflict over his hospital’s institutional endorsement of LGBT activities, urologist Paul Church lost his final appeal to the Board of Directors of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) to reconsider the hospital’s decision to expel him and terminate his medical privileges. That appeal was Church’s last chance to stay at BIDMC. The board’s final judgment on Dec. 8 dashed that hope—and confirmed the extent to which social ideologies have infected the nation’s medical field.
Planned Parenthood sues over undercover videos
(WNS)–Planned Parenthood filed suit Jan. 14 in federal court against the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), accusing the group of conducting “a complex criminal enterprise conceived and executed by anti-abortion extremists.”
The abortion giant claims CMP founder David Daleiden and his team broke laws in several states, as well as federal laws, by secretly taping private conversations and trespassing, using fake identities to gain access to Planned Parenthood facilities. Daleiden conducted a three-year, undercover operation, during which he posed as a fetal-tissue buyer and secretly taped Planned Parenthood executives and abortionists talking about the group’s methods of and payments for procuring the bodies of aborted babies for scientific research. CMP began releasing videos from the operation in July.
Massachusetts court: Catholic school must hire gay employees
(WNS)–A Massachusetts state court ruled in mid-December that a Catholic school may not deny employment to a homosexual, a decision activists hail as the first of its kind in the country. Fontbonne Academy, an all-girls college preparatory school in Milton, offered Matthew Barrett a job as a food service director in the summer of 2013. But when Barrett filled out a new employee form and listed his “husband” as an emergency contact, school administrators rescinded the offer, citing Catholic belief that marriage is between a man and woman. They said they required employees to model Catholic values. Superior Court Associate Justice Douglas H. Wilkins ruled the school discriminated against Barrett in violation of Massachusetts law, which prohibits denying employment on the basis of “sexual orientation.” In a 21-page ruling, the judge wrote the facts of the case made it clear Barrett had “suffered denial of employment, that the reason for denial was his sexual orientation, and that he suffered harm as a result.”
Wheaton takes first steps to fire prof over Muslim, Christian theology dispute
(WNS)–A panel of Wheaton College faculty will meet within the next 30 days to consider whether to recommend termination for one of their colleagues, political science professor Larycia Hawkins. The hearing is part of the evangelical university’s standard process for terminating a tenured professor. Administrators placed Hawkins on paid leave in December after she made comments on social media about Muslims and Christians worshipping the same God. Her statements were part of a campaign of solidarity with Muslims sparked by recent debates about refugees and terrorism. To show support for her Muslim neighbors, Hawkins announced she would wear a hijab, the traditional head covering for Muslim women, during Advent. Wheaton administrators didn’t oppose Hawkins wearing the hijab but said her claims about similarities between Islam and Christianity raised questions about her commitment to the university’s Statement of Faith. Hawkins initially said she would seek reconciliation with her employer and submitted a letter to administrators explaining her position. But when they asked for a meeting to discuss the issue further, she refused to participate.
Tony Perkins praises Kim Davis, pro-life lawmakers in annual address
(WNS)–Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins delivered his second annual “State of the Family” address Jan. 11, highlighting the many blows to Christian values in 2015 but declaring optimism for the year to come. “Many of our nation’s leading politicians and jurists believe that religion is a toxin to public life,” he said. “In the battle over our basic convictions, we see the sidelines are shrinking.” Perkins noted 2015 began with anxiety over the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of marriage and ended with two Oregon bakers paying more than $130,000 because they refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis joined Perkins as one of his recognized guests. He called Davis one of America’s heroes for freedom and liberty: “Kim stood strong, to the point of spending time in jail.”
LGBT activists target Christian colleges over Title IX exemptions
(WNS)–An LGBT activist group has singled out Christian colleges in a recent report, claiming they use religious liberty as a “guise for discrimination” against LGBT students.
Since 2013, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 56 colleges have applied for partial exemptions to Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, citing views on transgenderism and homosexuality. The group is calling on Congress and the Department of Education to broadcast information about these schools to prospective students.
“There is an alarming and growing trend of schools quietly seeking the right to discriminate against LGBT students, and not disclosing that information publicly,” HRC president Chad Griffin said in a press release. “Prospective students and their parents deserve greater transparency.”
Anglican meeting on sexuality, Scripture could set denomination’s future
(WNS)–At the invitation of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Anglican Communion gathered Jan. 11 at Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury for a week-long discussion of issues threatening to rip the denomination apart. Although a variety of topics are slated for discussion, it is the seemingly irreconcilable fissure over human sexuality, marriage and—ultimately—scriptural fidelity, that is drawing speculation about a denominational split.
Thirty-eight archbishops representing all Anglican provinces worldwide have gathered for the private meeting. But more than oceans divide this 85-million member denomination, as competing interpretations of Scripture contend for prominence in the Anglican canon.
Among attendees are the archbishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, which have affirmed same-sex marriage, expunging from their canons any reference to marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The Anglican provinces in Africa—where homosexuality is illegal in some nations—remain steadfast in their biblical definition of marriage, as does the Church of England, for now.
Anglican Communion suspends Episcopal Church
(WNS)–The Anglican Communion has temporarily suspended The Episcopal Church, restricting the activities of the American province over last year’s unilateral and “fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our provinces on the doctrine of marriage.” In an eight-point statement released Jan. 14, the 38 archbishops meeting this week in Canterbury said they sought unity in the face of ongoing deep differences. The announcement was leaked in advance of a press conference scheduled for Jan. 15. Forestalling speculation about the nature of the statement, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby released the complete document today.
Throughout the statement, the archbishops emphasized the division created within the Anglican Communion by the Episcopals’ independent decision to redefine marriage. As a result, the archbishops required “that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”
Boy and girl locker rooms going extinct in states on U.S. coasts
(WNS)–At the end of 2015, two human rights commissions over 2,800 miles apart enacted new rules that could be precedent-setting for the gender battle across the nation, including giving people the right to use whichever locker rooms and bathrooms they choose. The New York City Commission on Human Rights issued guidelines Dec. 21 to clarify what “constitutes gender identity and gender-expression discrimination” under the city’s 2002 Human Rights Law. The new policy addresses discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodation, and housing. The guidelines offer several definitions that categorize people according to their self-defined sexual identity, including transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex. Instead of male or female, the identity of “cisgender” is offered as “an adjective denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex, i.e., someone who is not transgender.” Meanwhile, as of Dec. 26, a new rule created by the Washington State Human Rights Commission requires buildings open to the public to allow transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms of the gender with which they identify.
Angel Tree to ask volunteers to sign a statement of faith
(WNS)–In a move that could cost the ministry an untold number of volunteers, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program will require its coordinators to affirm its statement of faith beginning Jan. 1, 2016. The requirement is an effort to ensure theological alignment between volunteers and the program that, for 33 years, has delivered gifts and the gospel to inmates and their children. The requirement is proactive and not in response to a specific problem, Prison Fellowship vice president Sara Nagelvoort Marlin told WORLD. But the organization’s statement of faith does put it at odds with liberal churches that may share Prison Fellowship’s conviction to help prisoners and their families but not its stand on issues of life, marriage, and the inerrancy of scripture. Angel Tree’s volunteer coordinators represent 7,700 U.S. churches.
Texas school district votes to arm teachers
(WNS)–A small Texas school district voted in December to arm teachers to help prevent a mass shooting attack. The Keene Independent School District Board of Trustees voted 6-1 to approve a “school marshal” policy allowing the district to provide select staff members with weapons and permission to carry them on school property. The district will carefully vet potential marshals and keep the number of armed staff, as well as their names, confidential for security reasons. Keene is a town of about 6,000 residents south of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Keene school district has four campuses: elementary, junior high, high school, and alternative learning. Under the new policy, campus principals, Keene Police Department officials, and the district’s superintendent will identify candidates approved to volunteer. Those selected will undergo concealed handgun license training and must earn 80 additional training hours annually to maintain their position, according to a local NBC affiliate.