Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders 07.18

Newsworthy

Just short. In 2011, California passed a law, SB 48, that requires social science classes to add curriculum that is positive toward homosexuals. An attempt to neutralize the effects of that law with another law has failed to get the 500,000 signatures needed to be on the 2014 ballot. A coalition promoting the CLASS Act (Children Learning Accurate Social Science) announced Monday that it had only 446,000 signatures. Kevin Snider, chief counsel to the Pacific Justice Institute and the author of the wording for the CLASS Act, said in a statement, "Placing a measure on the ballot through grassroots efforts alone has not been done in California in recent memory. Although history was against us, our conscience compelled the coalition to fight this battle rather than doing nothing." Supporters of the CLASS Act included Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, Faith and Public Policy, the Capitol Resource Institute, the Pacific Justice Institute, the Alliance Defense Fund, the Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America.

Mississippi massacre. A judge ruled last Friday that the state's only abortion center can remain open while a court case over a state law requiring all abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges proceeds. Gov. Phil Bryant signed a law earlier this year that also requires abortionists to be board-certified obstetrician/gynecologists. The law was scheduled to go into effect on July 1, and because Mississippi's sole remaining abortion facility was unlikely to meet the requirements, it would likely have to close, making Mississippi the only state without an abortion center. That facility, located in Jackson, is run by Diane Derzis, who also runs abortion centers in several southeastern states. Recently, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) found 76 pages' worth of health code violations at the facility she operates in Birmingham, and has said it could only remain open if someone runs it with no ties to Derzis. Operation Rescue President Troy Newman called the decision "reprehensible" and said Derzis' facility will allow "fly-by-night" doctors to continue to endanger women's lives.

Adding insult to injury. Flawed people fill the world and the church. It has ever been so. So-called "tolerant" and "inclusive" churches say they offer compassion by telling people, "Come as you are." The true Gospel, on the other hand, offers the possibility of change and wholeness. The True Church calls to the world: "Come as you are, but be transformed." By allowing and encouraging people to remain in sin, "inclusive" and "tolerant" churches in the end bring death. That's what theologian (and former Episcopal Bishop) Fitz Allison called "the cruelty of heresy." The Episcopal Church demonstrated the cruelty of heresy last week at its General Convention by approving the ordination of transgender people as priests and adopted liturgies for the blessings of same-sex unions. Then, to add insult to injury, it ended its meeting with a resolution calling on the U.S. government to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act. As I reported previously, 13 of the 300 bishops at the convention left early. Twelve of them signed a letter called the Indianapolis Statement to mark their dissent to those actions. The Right Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, bishop of South Carolina, said in a separate statement that "these resolutions, in my opinion, are disconcerting changes to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church." That could end up being the understatement of the year.

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Welfare reform gutted. In 1996, Congress passed one of the most sweeping reforms of welfare in history: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. The law depended heavily on the work of WORLD's own Marvin Olasky and his book The Tragedy of American Compassion, which then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich made "required reading" for every member of Congress. One of the provisions of that law was TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Under TANF, welfare recipients must work, try to find work, or take classes. These provisions led to massive numbers of poor people moving into the workforce. Last week, though, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a directive that said, states may seek a waiver from the work component of TANF to "test alternative and innovative strategies, policies and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families." The new directive went mostly unreported on the day HHS announced it, last Thursday, but has since been getting some attention, particularly from GOP lawmakers. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said, "President Obama just tore up a basic foundation of the welfare contract." He also called the move a "blatant violation of the law." Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, have since written a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, "demanding an explanation" and questioning her authority to override the law. Camp called it "a brazen and unwarranted unraveling" of TANF that "ends welfare reform as we know it."

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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