U.S. House Passes 'Homosexual Rights'
Job Bill For First Time
BY TOM STRODE ©2007 Baptist Press
he House of Representatives comfortably approved workplace protections based on "sexual orientation" November 7, handing the homosexual activist movement a groundbreaking victory.
The House's 235-184 vote for the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) marked the first time either chamber of Congress has passed such legislation, but it appears unlikely the bill will become law-–at least this year. The White House already has indicated a veto is probable if it reaches President Bush, and the House roll call was more than 40 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for an override. The Senate has yet to act on the measure.
Representatives of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and other pro-family organizations lamented the House action.
"This is a bad bill with bad consequences for our nation," ERLC President Richard Land said, "and I am extremely hopeful, if it were by some strange happenstance to pass the Senate, the president would follow through on his signals to veto this really bad bill."
ENDA would make discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation" illegal in such areas as hiring, firing, and compensation for both the private and public workplace. According to the legislation, "sexual orientation" encompasses "homosexuality, bisexuality, or heterosexuality," whether "actual or perceived." The measure would treat "sexual orientation" in similar fashion to other federally protected categories, such as race, gender, age, and religion.
Some but possibly not all religious organizations are exempted from the bill's requirements, as are the military and businesses with fewer than 15 employees.
Among the reasons the ERLC and others give for opposing the legislation are:
— The bill will establish rights for a category that does not rise to the level of unchangeable traits, which include race and gender.To read the rest of the story, click here.
— It would infringe on the religious rights of some religious-themed businesses, such as Christian bookstores, as well as those of other employers and employees who consider homosexual behavior sinful.
— The measure would open the door to a flood of lawsuits by advocates of homosexuality.
— It could pave the way for the legalization of "same-sex marriage."
Canadian Anglicans Continue Ban on Gay Weddings
Canada's Anglican bishops have decided to continue a moratorium on same-sex marriages that was first imposed in 2005.
Meeting in London, Ontario, for their regular autumn session, the 40 bishops agreed to leave in place the two-year-old moratorium. The Anglican Journal reports they also expressed serious concern about Canadian participation in activities that widen the schism in the Anglican Communion.
Last month the Anglican dioceses of Ottawa and Montreal voted to approve the blessing of same-sex marriages, should the priest and parish approve. It is unclear what effect the bishops' decision will have in those dioceses.
"We need to open a conversation to see where we are," said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. Bishops in Ottawa and Montreal "would appreciate some input from us," he added. The bishops of Ottawa and Montreal said they have not yet decided how they will act on the votes of their synods.
Democrats Hail Abortion Reduction Measure
Congressional Democrats and religious leaders are touting a new initiative to allocate more than $600 million to reduce abortion in the U.S., but critics say they're just putting a new name on old programs.
The funding, part of the Labor, Health, and Human Services appropriations bill, represents a "pragmatic, practical way of approaching the problem (of abortion)," said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. "It's saying loud and clear the Democratic Party wants to reduce the need for abortion and is willing to put our money where our mouth is," Ryan said.
Critics, however, contend that Democrats have just repackaged old programs under the rhetoric of "reducing abortions."
"There's nothing new here," said Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' secretariat for pro-life activities. The legislation calls for $615 million to finance programs to fight teen pregnancy through contraception and abstinence education, child-care aid for poor mothers, and adoption advocacy.
"We are promoting the policies, which are critical for reducing the need for abortion in this country," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
For several years Ryan and DeLauro, both Catholics, have sponsored legislation aimed at reducing abortions, but the measures have failed. Groups on both sides of the abortion issue have criticized their past efforts. The Catholics bishops, for instance, oppose birth control, and Planned Parenthood fears the restriction of reproductive choice.
Ryan called birth control "the new fault line in the debate." But, he said, "we can't run from the fact, as a Catholic I say this, that if we do not provide birth control for these women we're going to have (more) abortions."
The Rev. Joel C. Hunter, an evangelical pastor from Florida, who describes himself as "just to the right of Attila the Hun," praised the funding measure Thursday. "I love what the Democratic Party is doing here," he said in a teleconference to promote the funding.
Study Suggests Fasting is Good For Your Heart
Fasting for a day each month can reduce your chances of getting heart disease, according to a study released this week.
Researchers undertook the study based on the experience of Mormons, who historically have been found to have lower rates of heart disease than other Americans.
Mormons belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which teaches fasting. Researchers wanted to assess the impact of this practice--as well as other church teachings, such as not smoking and abstaining from coffee and alcohol--on heart disease rates.
They examined the records of heart registry patients who had undergone diagnostic testing between 1994 and 2002 to look for blockages in coronary arteries. A total of 4,629 patients were able to be diagnosed by doctors as either having or not having coronary artery disease (defined as at least 70 percent blockage in at least one artery). Coronary artery disease was less prevalent in patients who identified themselves as Mormons--61 percent vs. 66 percent in those who stated another religion or no religious preference.
But researchers were struck by the fact that non-Mormons who fasted as part of a health-conscious lifestyle also reported lower rates of heart disease. "People who fast seem to receive a heart-protective benefit," said Benjamin Horne, study author and director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
Overall, fasting was associated with 39 percent lower odds of being diagnosed with coronary artery disease in the study, results of which were released during the 80th annual American Heart Association scientific meeting in Orlando, Florida.
According to Horne, the association between fasting and healthy arteries could be due to timing. "When you abstain from food for 24 hours, it reduces the constant exposure of the body to foods and glucose," he said.