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from The College Fix:

A trend seen by pro-life activists that frequently engage college students on campuses nationwide is the growing acceptance of post-birth abortion, or killing the infant after he or she is born, campus pro-life outreach leaders tell The College Fix.

Anecdotal evidence by leaders of prolife groups such as Created Equal and Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust said in interviews that not only do they see more college students willing to say they support post-birth abortion, but some students even suggest children up to 4 or 5-years-old can also be killed, because they are not yet “self aware.”

“We encounter people who think it is morally acceptable to kill babies after birth on a regular basis at almost every campus we visit,” said Mark Harrington, director of Created Equal. “While this viewpoint is still seen as shocking by most people, it is becoming increasingly popular.”

Campuses where the high school, college students, local activists and staff members of Created Equal have encountered this opinion include Purdue, University of Minnesota, and University of Central Florida. And at Ohio State earlier this year, the group captured a debate on video between one of its members and an older woman on campus who defended infanticide.

“This is the whole problem with devaluing human life at any stage—it will naturally grow to include other groups of humans; in this case, born humans as well as pre-born humans,” Harrington said. “[I] talked with one young man at the University of Minnesota who thought it was alright to kill children if they were under the age of 5 years old, as he did not consider them persons until that age.”

Kristina Garza, spokeswoman for Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, a pro-life organization that often sets up anti-abortion displays on campuses along the West Coast, said her group also frequently encounters college students who accept infanticide.

“For those who are firmly for abortion, because they understand it kills a human being, it’s very easy for them to accept killing a human being after birth,” Garza said. “There is this notion that is common on campus, that it’s OK to kill babies because somehow we don’t become human until we are self aware.”

“A common number that is going around is 4 years old,” she adds.

As for the trend, Garza said there’s an explanation for it. For one, the arguments put forth by Peter Singer and other philosophers who support infanticide are given as reading assignments to college students.

Singer wrote in 1979 that “human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons … [therefore] the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”

“He has been saying things like this since the 70s, but I think it has been more recently that this type of ideology is being promoted on college campuses,” Garza said. “When he said this stuff, there was a very select few who accepted it. But nowadays, we have become so desensitized, and college students lacking in a moral fiber easily accept this kind of strange ideology.”

But prolife advocacy and engagement on campuses has helped turn students away from pro-choice stances, she adds.

“While the number of students who believe it is OK with killing children after birth is growing, the number of students who accept that life beings at conception is also growing, and that is growing at a larger and faster rate than those who accept infanticide,” Garza said.

“The trends I am seeing is it’s not so much students are better grounded in morals, it’s that we as a prolife movement have done our job in presenting a better argument, and we are pushing people out of the middle,” she said. “We are seeing more students who see the logic and choose to be anti-abortion.”

Yet staunch opposition to the prolife philosphy remains.

Asked about the incident at Ohio State, at which a woman responded to a prolife display by defending infanticide, a pro-abortion activism group at the campus stated its views were similar to those of the woman in the clip.

“As for post-birth abortion, I would imagine that my colleagues would think the ‘post-birth’ part was largely irrelevant, as we believe very strongly in abortion on demand, without apology, and it’s plain and simple that we should look to the woman’s morals and not shove our opinions where they, frankly, don’t belong,” Devin Deitsch, leader of VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood at Ohio State University, said in an email to The College Fix.

“Speaking as the primary leader of VOX, I assure you we are very pro-choice,” Deitsch also noted. “… We are not here to advocate for women to get abortions, we advocate for her ability to make that choice without fear, heckling, or barriers. Essentially, we ask for a woman (and her body) to be respected. Nothing more, nothing less.”

from The Federalist:

For the past four years, the Obama administration and its friends on the Left were careful to claim that they still strongly support religious liberty while arguing that Hobby Lobby’s Green family, Conestoga Wood Specialties’ Hahn family, and others like them must lose. Principally, they contended, religious liberty protections could not be applied to Hobby Lobby because (1) It is a for-profit corporation, (2) It isn’t a church (and thus not a true “religious employer,” and (3) It is wrong on the science—Plan B, a copper intrauterine device, et cetera, they claimed, do not cause abortions. They implied, if not claimed outright, that they would surely support religious freedom in another case, but Hobby Lobby was unworthy to claim its protections.

The State of California is now calling their bluff. California’s Department of Managed Health Care has ordered all insurance plans in the state to immediately begin covering elective abortion. Not Plan B. Not contraceptives. Elective surgical dismemberment abortion.

At the insistence of the American Civil Liberties Union, the DMHC concluded that a 40-year-old state law requiring health plans to cover “basic health services” had been misinterpreted all these decades. Every plan in the state was immediately ordered, effective August 22, to cover elective abortion. California had not even applied this test to its own state employee health plans (which covered only “medically necessary” abortions). But this novel reading was nevertheless quietly imposed on every plan in the state by fiat.

The news has slowly leaked out as insurers grappling with this change have begun quietly informing employers of this sudden change in the terms of their policy. This is how Kaiser Permanente broke the news to one California church that its insurance policy for its pastors and staff would now include elective abortion coverage:

I want to formally share with you that on August 22, 2014, the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) notified Kaiser Permanente and other affected health plans in writing regarding group contracts that exclude ‘voluntary termination of pregnancy.’

This letter made clear that the DMHC considered health care services related to the termination of pregnancies – whether or not a voluntary termination – a medically necessary basic health care service for which all health care services plans must provide coverage under the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act.  You may recall that at the request of some employer groups with religious affiliations, Kaiser Permanente submitted a regulatory filing in May 2012 properly notifying the DMHC of a benefit plan option that excluded coverage of voluntary terminations of pregnancies. The DMHC did not object to this filing, permitting Kaiser Permanente to offer such a coverage contract to large group purchasers that requested it. The DMHC acknowledged that it previously permitted these contract exclusions, but now is requiring health care service plans to provide coverage of all terminations of pregnancies, effective immediately.  To that end, the DMHC requires Kaiser Permanente and similar health care service plans to initiate steps to modify their plan contracts accordingly.

Effective August 22, Kaiser Permanente will comply with this regulatory mandate.

Churches Can Exclude Chemical Baby Killing, But Not Surgical

Several other California churches have received similar notices from their insurers, and others will follow. While California (like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS) exempts churches from itscontraceptive mandate, there is no exception to this bureaucratic abortion mandate. This leaves California churches in the illogical and impossible position of being free to exclude contraceptives from their health plan for reasons of religious conscience but required to provide their employees with abortion coverage.

This California mandate is in blatant violation of federal law that specifically prohibits California from discriminating against health care plans on the basis that they do not cover abortion. Alliance Defending Freedom and Life Legal Defense Foundation have filed administrative complaints with the HHS Office of Civil Rights (which oversees this federal law) on behalf of individual employees and seven California churches forced into abortion coverage in violation of their conscience.

What will be the administration and the Left’s response to this unprecedented attack on religious liberty? If they couldn’t stand with Hobby Lobby because it was a for-profit business, not a church, and because they thought its conscience concern was misplaced on the abortifacient nature of Plan B, will they now demand religious liberty for churches forced to cover elective abortion? If not now for religious liberty, when?

Do the administration and the left-wing commentariat continue to see any life in the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections at all? The Left’s response to California’s abortion mandate will reveal whether their claims of respect for religious liberty in the Hobby Lobby case were serious or mere fig leafs for an even more dismal view of religious liberty than they have let on.

By posting this article I in no way endorse this part of the article: ” If Ron and John want to do the same thing, they should be able to go through the same process, and as long as they find a church that is willing to perform the ceremony and a state where the law allows them to do so, they can be married.”

The article is making a valid point about the true “church” needing to separate itself from a secular state.

The wedding band started out in Roman times as a way for Christians who  married to signify their devotion to each other in a Christian union, in contrast to the Roman secular notion of marriage. Its time the true church stopped being an agent for the state and while also attempting to remain true to it’s Biblical teachings.

The only way it can do that is to stop being a legal agent for a secular state.

from Dispatches from the Conservative Underground:

Lost among all of the Ebola related headlines are many other issues which should be addressed. One in particular is the current controversy in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho over two Christian pastors who have been threatened with fines and jail time for refusing to perform same-sex marriages. Of course, this attack on religious liberty is something many of us have seen coming for quite some time and I assure you more will soon follow. The fault here is lies not with proponents of same-sex marriage, but with churches who have allowed themselves to become government agencies with respect to marriage.

Christians define marriage as a union between one man and one woman in obedience to God, while government sees marriage as a union between to consenting adults to create a legal status. For generations churches have been conducting wedding ceremonies to create their definition of a marriage, and at the same time have acted as an agency of the government in creating the legal union. Until now that has not posed a problem because the definition of marriage had not been called into question, and it was a convenient way to kill two birds with one stone. The fact is however, this tradition blurred the line of separation between church and state that should never have been allowed to exist.

By allowing pastors to become “marriage officials”, churches have unwittingly turned control of their definition of marriage over to the government. Regardless of the religious beliefs of a particular church, by acting as a party to the legal definition of marriage they put themselves in a position to be sanctioned for discriminatory practices. Churches are allowed to hold positions against same-sex marriage, but in most states now governments are not. The only way to resolve this issue is to make a clean break between the religion based institution of marriage created by a church and the legal status of marriage established by the government.

If Larry and Mary want to be married and have their marriage blessed by their church in front of their family and friends, they should be able to do so as long as their church is willing to perform the ceremony. If the couple wishes to have their union blessed by the government in the form of a legal status, they need only stop by the local courthouse and file the necessary paperwork to demonstrate they can be legally married according to the laws of their state, and have a local government official such as the Justice of the Peace make it official. If Ron and John want to do the same thing, they should be able to go through the same process, and as long as they find a church that is willing to perform the ceremony and a state where the law allows them to do so, they can be married.

This process would work fine if pastors of Christian churches were not acting as a legal representative of the government, in effect creating a ‘marriage of convenience’ between church and state. As far as I can tell, the only purpose in this arrangement is to simplify the marriage process so that a couple only has to be married once in order to obtain the benefits of each definition of marriage. I am all about convenience and simplifying a process when possible, but this particular simplification seems to have complicated things a little more than people expected.

This marriage of convenience between church and state was good while it lasted, but the two parties have grown apart. Undoubtedly it is time for them to divorce because of irreconcilable differences.

from The Daily Telegraph:

A successful Christian school has been warned it is to be downgraded by inspectors and could even face closure after failing to invite a leader from another religion, such as an imam, to lead assemblies, it is claimed.

The small independent school in the Home Counties was told it is in breach of new rules intended to promote “British values” such as individual liberty and tolerance in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal, involving infiltration by hard-line Muslim groups in Birmingham.

Details of the case are disclosed in a letter to the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, from the Christian Institute, which is providing legal support to the school.

The group warned that the new rules intended to combat extremism are already having “disturbing consequences” for religious schools and forcing Ofsted inspectors to act in a way which undermines their ethos.

It follows complaints from orthodox Jewish schools about recent inspections in which girls from strict traditional backgrounds were allegedly asked whether they were being taught enough about lesbianism, whether they had boyfriends and if they knew where babies came from.

In the latest case inspectors are understood to have warned the head that the school, which was previously rated as “good” that it would be downgraded to “adequate” for failing to meet standards requiring it to “actively promote” harmony between different faiths because it had failed to bring in representatives from other religions.

They warned that unless the school could demonstrate how it was going to meet the new requirements there would be a further full inspection which could ultimately lead to it being closed.

A Government consultation paper published in June, explaining the new rules, makes clear that even taking children on trips to different places of worship would not be enough to be judged compliant.

The Institute, which is already planning a legal challenge to the consultation, arguing that it was rushed through during the school holidays, fears that the new guidelines could be used to clamp down on the teaching of anything deemed politically incorrect on issues such as marriage.

“Worryingly, evidence is already emerging of how the new regulations are requiring Ofsted inspection teams to behave in ways which do not respect the religious ethos of faith schools,” Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute, told Mrs Morgan.

“The new requirements are infringing the rights of children, parents, teachers and schools to hold and practise their religious beliefs.”

Listing recent cases involving criticism of Anglican, Roman Catholic and Jewish schools by Ofsted, he added: “The Christian Institute is currently working with an independent Christian School which has been marked down by Ofsted for not promoting other faiths.

“Astonishingly it was told it should invite representatives of other faith groups to lead assemblies and lessons, such as an Imam.

“The wording of the regulations inevitably results in these kind of outcomes.

“While we obviously support attempts to address the problem of radicalisation, the current regulations fail to do this.”

A spokeswoman for Ofsted said: “Under Ofsted’s revised guidance for the inspection of schools, inspectors now pay greater attention to ensuring that schools provide a broad and balanced education for their pupils, so that young people are well prepared for the next stage in their education, or for employment and for life in modern Britain.

“Inspectors will consider the effectiveness of the school’s provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and how the school’s leadership and management ensure that the curriculum actively promotes British values.

“This includes, among other factors, pupils’ acceptance and engagement of different faiths and beliefs, and their understanding and appreciation of the range of different cultures within school and further afield.”

from Got Questions:

Gaining in popularity today is the teaching that a series of blood-red moons in the next two years will be a portent of Jesus’ second coming and a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Astronomical charts show four lunar eclipses will occur from 2014 to 2015. Because a full lunar eclipse often makes the moon look red or orange, it is sometimes referred to as a “blood moon” or “blood-red moon.” Some teachers of prophecy say that this tetrad of blood moons will fulfill end-times prophecies in Joel and Revelation.

What has interested prophecy teachers is not just the number of lunar eclipses in the next two years but the timing of the eclipses. In both 2014 and 2015, a full lunar eclipse will occur on the first day of Passover and the first day of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). In addition to the two lunar eclipses of 2015, two solar eclipses will also occur. Similar lunar eclipses in back-to-back years have happened seven times since the time of Christ. Some of those have occurred in years of significance for the Jewish people, such as 1948 (when Israel was granted statehood) and 1967 (when the Six-Day War was fought).

References to a moon like “blood” are found in two passages of the Bible. Joel 2:30–31 says, “I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” In Revelation 6:12, John describes one of the seal judgments of the Tribulation: “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” Other passages refer to the moon being “darkened” (Matthew 24:29; Joel 2:10).

A tetrad of lunar eclipses—and the timing of those eclipses in the Jewish calendar—is fairly unusual, but not unprecedented. So the fact of the eclipses, while interesting, is no proof that Jesus will return by 2015. Furthermore, John’s and Joel’s descriptions of the signs of the Day of the Lord could refer to solar and lunar eclipses, but there are other possible explanations for those phenomena, such as changes in the atmosphere (mentioned in Revelation 6:12).

The blood-red moon theory is just that—a theory. Even as a theory, it comes close to doing what the Bible warns against: setting dates for the coming of the Lord. “About that day or hour no one knows” (Mark 13:32).

from MSN News:

The pastor of one of the Pacific north-west’s most successful evangelical mega churches stepped down on Tuesday, amid allegations that he bullied dissenting members and plagiarized.

Mark Driscoll announced his resignation from the Mars Hill church in Seattle, Washington, in a letter to church accountability advisers published by Religion News Service and later on the Mars Hill website.

“I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Driscoll. “Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit,” he said.

Described by some as an “evangelical bad boy,” Driscoll founded the now-14,000-member church in 1996. The pastor gives sermons the way some explain neurology in Ted Talks, and he’s credited with bringing evangelicalism into the digital age.

Last Easter, for example, the church’s 15 locations in five states packed in more than 21,000 attendees for its service, and another 50,000 people watched the downtown Seattle service online. Other online promotions, like Mars Hill GO, have the look and sound of an iPad app, but support the church’s missionising theology.

Despite the church’s sophisticated online presence, some of Driscoll’s theological views have been cited as opposing modern sensibilities. Complementarianism, one of the church’s teachings, reasons that men and women were created by God equal in dignity, but that the sexes have specific and distinct roles to play. Men, for instance, are expected to lead the household – and their wives.

After years of pressure, Driscoll took a six-week leave of absence from the church in mid-August, and tendered his resignation to the church’s board of advisers and accountability that investigated him.

“Other issues, such as aspects of my personality and leadership style, have proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context, and I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ,” Driscoll said.

Controversy began to coalesce around Driscoll in 2007, when he attempted to reduce the power of church elders through the congregation’s bylaws, according to the New York Times. Later, the nine church elders who asked Driscoll to step down resigned or were fired, Driscoll’s books were pulled from the 186 stores of the LifeWay Christian Resources retailer, and petitions called for an investigation into financial mismanagement.

Leaders told RNS that Driscoll was never charged with heresy or immorality, but that, “Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.”

Update: Houston’s Mayor Backtracks on Church Subpoenas, Tosses Her Own Lawyers Under the Bus

from Fox News:

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

ADF, a nationally-known law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is representing five Houston pastors. They filed a motion in Harris County court to stop the subpoenas arguing they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

“Political and social commentary is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “It is protected by the First Amendment.”

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa.  The city council approved the law in June.

The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.

However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities.

After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors.

The pastors were not part of the lawsuit. However, they were part of a coalition of some 400 Houston-area churches that opposed the ordinance. The churches represent a number of faith groups – from Southern Baptist to non-denominational.

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF attorney Erik Stanley.  “This is designed to intimidate pastors.”

Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons. I contacted City Hall for a comment and received a terse reply from the mayor’s director of communications.

“We don’t comment on litigation,” said Janice Evans.

However, ADF attorney Stanley suspects the mayor wants to publicly shame the ministers. He said he anticipates they will hold up their sermons for public scrutiny. In other words – the city is rummaging for evidence to “out” the pastors as anti-gay bigots.

Among those slapped with a subpoena is Steve Riggle, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church. He was ordered to produce all speeches and sermons related to Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality and gender identity.

The mega-church pastor was also ordered to hand over “all communications with members of your congregation” regarding the non-discrimination law.

“This is an attempt to chill pastors from speaking to the cultural issues of the day,” Riggle told me. “The mayor would like to silence our voice. She’s a bully.”

David Welch, pastor of Bear Creek Church and director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, also received a subpoena. He said he will not be intimidated by the mayor.

“We’re not afraid of this bully,” he said. “We’re not intimidated at all.”

He accused the city of violating the law with the subpoenas and vowed to stand firm in the faith.

“We are not going to yield our First Amendment rights,” Welch told me. ‘This is absolutely a complete abuse of authority.”

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said pastors around the nation should rally around the Houston ministers.

“The state is breaching the wall of separation between church and state,” Perkins told me. ‘Pastors need to step forward and challenge this across the country. I’d like to see literally thousands of pastors after they read this story begin to challenge government authorities – to dare them to come into their churches and demand their sermons.”

Perkins called the actions by Houston’s mayor “obscene” and said they “should not be tolerated.”

“This is a shot across the bow of the church,” he said.

This is the moment I wrote about in my book, “God Less America.” I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of “tolerance and diversity” elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty.

Sadly, that day arrived sooner than even I expected.

Tony Perkins is absolutely right. Now is the time for pastors and people of faith to take a stand.  We must rise up and reject this despicable strong-arm attack on religious liberty. We cannot allow ministers to be intimidated by government thugs.

The pastors I spoke to tell me they will not comply with the subpoena – putting them at risk for a “fine or confinement, or both.”

Heaven forbid that should happen. But if it does, Christians across America should be willing to descend en masse upon Houston and join these brave men of God behind bars.

Pastor Welch compared the culture war skirmish to the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, fought in present-day Harris County, Texas. It was a decisive battle of the Texas Revolution.

“This is the San Jacinto moment for traditional family,” Welch told me. “This is the place where we stop the LGBT assault on the freedom to practice our faith.”

We can no longer remain silent. We must stand together – because one day – the government might come for your pastor.

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