Signs and Wonders
A Kroger store in Frisco, Texas
Associated Press/Photo by Tony Gutierrez
A Kroger store in Frisco, Texas

Signs and Wonders 11.19

Newsworthy

More Obamacare layoffs. It’s hard to separate the hype from the reality, but it does appear that Obamacare is having an impact on hiring decisions of major employers, especially companies that have large numbers of hourly employees. Obamacare requires employers to provide health insurance for employees working more than 30 hours a week. According to various news reports, Kroger, which employs more than 350,000 people, will limit part-time employees to 28 hours per week. FreedomWorks reports that Welch Allyn, a New York company that manufactures medical diagnostic equipment, announced in September that it would lay off 275 employees, or roughly 10 percent of its workforce over the next three years. The company said the layoff was a proactive response to the Medical Device Tax mandated by the new healthcare law.

Temporary reprieve. A federal court ruled Friday that Tyndale House Publishers does not have to offer contraceptives and possible abortion-inducing drugs to employees. The publisher of Bibles and other Christian literature is a for-profit company that’s part of a non-profit foundation. Earlier in the year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Tyndale House had to offer contraceptive coverage or face huge fines. But the reprieve for Tyndale House is temporary. The court said the contraceptive mandate couldn’t be enforced while Tyndale’s case was ongoing. Currently, 40 lawsuits with more than 110 plaintiffs are challenging the mandate.

What’s ministry? Back in 2007, Davidson County, Tenn., ruled that the gymnasium and bookstore at Christ Church Pentecostal in Nashville weren’t integral to the mission of the church and weren’t exempt from property taxes. The church challenged the ruling and the Tennessee State Board of Equalization heard the case last week. The consequences could be dramatic. Lots of churches have bookstores and gymnasiums, and many of them say these operations are vital to the ministry of the church. But I’ve often gone into the megachurches that have gyms and bookstores and wondered at what point such operations become no different from the “money changing in the temple” that Jesus obviously condemned. Nearby for-profit gyms and bookstores are clearly hurt by these church-subsidized operations and their tax exemptions. The Alliance Defending Freedom is helping the church with its case. The Board of Equalization has so far not issued a ruling.

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The Iron Dome. News reports relentlessly discuss civilian casualties in Gaza at the hands of Israeli bombs. What these accounts mostly leave out is the fact that Israeli missiles are responses to the more than 750 missiles fired by Hamas from Gaza toward Israel. So why don’t Israeli casualties make the news? Let’s leave aside media bias, which we discussed here on Friday. Another reason is that many Hamas missiles fall harmlessly from the sky because of Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system. Israelis now joke that members of the “Cult of the Iron Dome”—fans of the missile defense system—run into the streets rather than for cover when air raid sirens go off. They want to videotape the Iron Dome in action. The Iron Dome system launches Israeli missiles that literally shoot incoming missiles out of the air. So far, about 300 missiles have been shot down by the Iron Dome system since 2007.

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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