January 2019 Front Lines

UNITED STATES

Birth Control Opt-Out Policy Finalized

The Trump administration finalized two rules that allow an opt-out for employers with religious or moral objections to providing government-mandated contraception coverage.

The first final rule provides exemption “on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs” and the second final rule “provides protections to nonprofit organizations and small businesses that have nonreligious moral convictions opposing services covered by the mandate,” the Health and Human Services Department said. The new regulations are scheduled to take effect this month.

CALIFORNIA

Board Members Resign from Evangelical School

Two members of the board of trustees at Azusa Pacific University (APU) have resigned, claiming that the evangelical institution has drifted from its foundation and mission.

Both members wrote letters to the board saying the school has been promoting a progressive ideology that does not align with its statement of faith nor the Bible.

“After fervent prayer and with integrity of heart, I cannot continue to be a part of these violations of God’s Word,” wrote Pastor Raleigh Washington, a trustee for 15 years, in a letter to the board. “I fear the spiritual consequences of this lack of correction and discipline.”

In response, David Poole, chairman of the board of trustees, issued a statement that APU is committed to maintaining its Biblical focus.

MISSISSIPPI

Federal Judge Blocks 15-Week Abortion Ban

A federal judge in Mississippi has permanently blocked the state’s 15-week abortion ban, which was one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, ruling that it “unequivocally” violates women’s constitutional rights.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed HB 1510, also known as the Gestational Age Act, in March, which prohibited abortions after 15 weeks of gestation except in the case of a medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality. The next day, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves issued a temporary block on the law after the state’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, sued.

Because of Reeves’ ruling, Louisiana’s 15-week abortion ban, signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, remains on hold as the law contained language stating it would only take effect if a federal court upheld the law in Mississippi.

OREGON

BGEA Files Brief on Behalf of Bakers

Attorneys general from several states and many organizations, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments in the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. The brief follows a petition filed by First Liberty Institute and Boyden Gray & Associates on behalf of the Kleins, asking the court to reverse the state of Oregon’s decision that forced the Kleins out of business by making them pay $135,000 for declining to create a cake for a same-sex wedding.

“Government power to order individuals to speak in a manner that violates their conscience is fundamentally at odds with the freedom of expression and tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints that this nation has long enjoyed and promoted,” the brief stated. “This case is about the freedom of artistic expression that should be protected by government rather than threatened by it.”

CANADA

Hospital Waiting Room Advertises Assisted Suicide

An advertisement for medical assistance in dying (MAiD) is on display in the urgent care waiting room of a William Osler Health System hospital. The ad states, “MAiD is a legal medical service in Canada, whereby physicians or nurse practitioners help eligible patients fulfill their wish to end their suffering.”

After a patient submits a written request, which the government of Ontario has made available in a form called the “Clinician Aid A,” the procedure takes about 5-10 minutes.

According to the health system’s website, “MAiD can happen anywhere, including in the hospital or in your own home,” and “Osler supports MAiD for both in-patients and out-patients.”

TEXAS

Custody Battle over Child’s Gender

A father in Texas has been charged with child abuse for not affirming his ex-wife’s decision to raise their 6-year-old son James as a girl.

Under his mother’s care, James is treated as a girl called “Luna,” who only wears girls’ clothes. But when he is with his father, he lives as a boy and refuses to wear girls’ clothes. James’ gender identity depends on which parent he is with. The mother identifies James’ twin brother, Jude, as a boy.

According to The Federalist, in addition to the child abuse charge, the mother has sought restraining orders against the father, is trying to terminate his parental rights and is attempting to make him pay for James’ visits to a transgender-affirming therapist and any transition-related medical procedures.

UNITED KINGDOM

Students Tricked into Transgenderism

A teacher has revealed that 17 of her students—many of whom have autism—are being encouraged and groomed by older students into believing they are the wrong sex. The whistleblowing teacher, who spoke anonymously to The Daily Mail, said she is not allowed to inform parents or other teachers if a student identifies as transgender, though she fears many of the students may be taking powerful puberty-blocking drugs.

Franklin Graham remarked on Facebook: “I hope parents and leaders across Britain will get involved, forget about being politically correct, and protect children from this dangerous and life-altering trend. If you’re a parent, be aware and on guard about what is going on in your child’s school.”

MARYLAND

SCOTUS to Hear Cross Memorial Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on whether the 93-year-old, cross-shaped war memorial in Bladensburg, Md., known as the Peace Cross, violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

The American Humanist Association (AHA), which sued the state of Maryland, opposes the 40-foot memorial because it is in the shape of a cross, sits on state property and is maintained by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The memorial lists the names of 49 men from Prince George’s County killed during World War I.

According to The Washington Times, a lower court ruled against the AHA, which advances nonreligious ideals. However, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stepped in last year and ruled that the cross was unconstitutional. The decision of the Supreme Court has the potential to impact many similar monuments throughout the country.

NEW JERSEY

Student Survey Results Ignored Due to Christian Values

Students at Rider University were sent a survey to elicit feedback on options for bringing a new restaurant franchise to campus. When the university learned the students’ top choice was Chick-fil-A, school officials disregarded the results and explained to students via email: “We have concluded that due to Rider University’s values and goals, which explicitly include efforts to promote the inclusion for all people, we are uncomfortable pursuing Chick-fil-A at this time in that their corporate values have not sufficiently progressed enough to align with those of Rider.”

Following the email, President Gregory G. Dell’Omo and Vice President for Student Affairs Leanna Fenneberg sent a letter to the Rider community stating, “Chick-fil-A was removed as one of the options based on the company’s record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community. ”

In response, a Chick-fil-A company spokesperson told CBS News, “Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on food, service and hospitality, and our restaurants and licensed locations on college campuses welcome everyone. We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda.”

TAIWAN

Same-Sex Marriage Legalization Rejected

In 2017, Taiwan’s high court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, giving lawmakers two years to legalize the practice. The country was set to become the first nation in Asia to allow same-sex marriage. However, a significant percentage of the Taiwanese people pushed back. More than 6 million Taiwanese voters approved a series of conservative initiatives, forcing a public referendum that resulted in a rejection of legalized same-sex marriage.