Saturday, July 28, 2012

A first: Judge rules against HHS mandate

DENVER (BP) -- A federal judge has handed opponents of the Obama administration's abortion/contraceptive mandate their first victory, ruling in favor of a private business whose owners are devout Catholics.

It was the first time a federal judge had ruled against the mandate, which requires employers to purchase insurance plans that cover contraceptives, including ones that can cause chemical abortions. Those drugs, often called morning-after pills and emergency contraceptives, come under various names, including Plan B and ella.

There currently are about 24 lawsuits seeking to overturn the mandate. Many of the suits involve religious organizations.

The mandate was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In his Friday (July 27) ruling, Judge John L. Kane of the U.S. District Court of Colorado ruled that the business -- Colorado-based Hercules Industries -- would suffer "irreparable harm" absent a preliminary injunction. The business is self-insured. The lawsuit now will proceed on an expedited basis.

Although the injunction applies only to Hercules Industries, it eventually could have a more far-reaching impact. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing the company.

"This lawsuit seeks to ensure that Washington bureaucrats cannot force families to abandon their faith just to earn a living," ADF attorney Matt Bowman said in a statement. "Americans don’t want politicians and bureaucrats deciding what faith is, who the faithful are, and where and how that faith may be lived out."


Gaza Christians fear the end of their tiny community

Christians in overwhelmingly Muslim Gaza have long fretted in private about the survival of their tiny community.
But their fears exploded publicly when two members of the flock recently converted to Islam. Christians staged a rare public protest, accusing Muslims of pulling followers from their faith.
The converts, who had been hiding to evade angry relatives, eventually surfaced and said they voluntarily changed religions. Gaza's ruling Islamic militant Hamas movement reiterated respect for freedom of worship and Christian institutions.
But the uproar highlighted the growing sense of vulnerability among Christians here. They are a dwindling minority among a mostly devout Muslim majority, mostly hemmed into the tiny sliver of land because of movement restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt. And they say some Muslims are doubling their efforts to convert them, emboldened by the atmosphere of Islamic fervor fostered by Hamas since it seized power in Gaza in 2007.
"We aren't safe anymore," said Josef Elias, a 44-year-old Christian from Gaza City. "This is a conspiracy against our existence in the Holy Land."
Fewer than 3,000 Christians live among Gaza's 1.7 million Muslim residents, and their numbers have rapidly shrunk in recent years, mainly because of the territory's turmoil. Some Christian families fled during the destruction from Israel's three-week military campaign against Hamas militants in the winter of 2008-2009. Others emigrated as Gaza's economy crumbled under Israel and Egypt's blockade, imposed after Hamas' takeover. Low birth rates also erode the community.
Those who remain say they feel increasingly unwelcome amid the more assertive religiosity everywhere around them. 

Teen Mania Celebrates 25 Years of Global Missions Work

Teen Mania Ministries is celebrating 25 years of sending young people on foreign missions trips through its Global Expeditions program, which has taught thousands of teenagers that they don't have to wait until they are adults in order to be used by God.

"The 25th anniversary for Teen Mania, I don't think it's a congratulations to us. It's just another sign that God is insisting that his mission gets accomplished," Ron Luce, founder and president of Teen Mania, told The Christian Post on Thursday.
Luce and his wife, Katie, started the Garden Valley, Texas-based ministry with the understanding that adults aren't the only ones who can be used by God, and teens don't need a high school diploma to make an impact on the world.
"When we first started, very few people were taking teenagers on missions trips. People would look at us and go, 'You want to take kids where? They can't remember to put their socks on, you want them to remember their passport?'" Luce told The Christian Post on Thursday.
Despite their passion, however, the Luce's decision to work with teenage missionaries wasn't easy. They were torn by their convictions to both reach young people in the U.S. and to work in foreign missions, Luce says, so they prayed for clarity and eventually God showed them that they could do both at the same time.
Since that time, around 70,000 teenagers have participated in Global Expeditions trips, Luce says, and nearly 1.5 million people have received Christ as a result of the witness of these young missionaries. Since its founding in 1987, the program has sent missionaries to over 69 different countries, and this year alone it will send 2,000 young people to 33 countries on six different continents.
"Every place we go we're teaching young people to share their faith in Christ, which, ironically, is a distinction that's not all so common on short-term mission trips now. There's a lot of 'let's go and do good things for people but not necessarily share our faith,' and...we want every single young person to lead people to Jesus," said Luce.