Signs and Wonders
California State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens.
Associated Press/Photo by Rich Pedroncelli
California State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens.

Signs and Wonders: Scouts face California tax exemption ban alone


Scouts on their own. The Boy Scouts of America already allow homosexual youth in the program. That’s not enough for homosexual activists and their advocates in California. They want to force the Scouts to accept openly homosexual adults or lose their tax-exempt status. State Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Los Angeles County, told NPR he finds the current Boy Scout policy unacceptable. “It’s all, in my opinion, based on this homophobic sentiment that [if] you’re an LGBT adult … you pose a threat to children,” he said. Lara is absolutely right, except for the part about this sentiment being homophobic. If the Scouts lose its tax-exempt status in California, the organization will have to pay sales and use taxes, and that will cost it about $250,000 a year. In response, a spokesman for the Scouts issued the following statement: “The State of California needs Scouting, which gives young people the opportunity to develop skills and take responsibility while inspiring a lifetime of character and service.” One of the ironies of this situation is that in the past, conservatives might have rallied to the defense of the Scouts, but given the organization’s recent actions, it likely will have to face this challenge on its own.

Misinformed. In a famous scene from the movie Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart, playing cynical restaurant owner Rick Blaine, explains that he came to Casablanca “for the waters.” His companion, Captain Renault, responds, “The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.” Rick wryly answers, “I was misinformed.” That scene came to my mind when I read a recent article from The New York Times asserting that climate change has slowed down. The Times article said, “The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace. The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists.” Meanwhile, environmentalists want us to take steps that could ultimately cost trillions of dollars to prevent global warming. I’m all for taking prudent steps to deal with an environment that is constantly changing. But we also must be careful that we, like Rick, do not end up taking rash steps based on bad information.

The “evangelical problem.” A new survey by the liberal Public Religion Research Institute said that evangelicals are twice as likely to talk about their faith in the workplace, and—according to the survey’s report—that creates the “potential for workplace clashes between atheists and evangelical Protestants.” Another interesting finding: Nearly 6-in-10 white evangelicals agreed that discrimination against Christians has become as big a problem as discrimination against other religious minorities. “There’s a clear sense in the data, especially among white evangelicals, that other workers’ needs are being taken care of and theirs are not,” said Robert P. Jones, head of the Public Religion Research Institute.

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Forbidding Shariah. Because of the long Labor Day holiday, an interesting news item from North Carolina almost slipped under the radar. Last week, the Tarheel State became the seventh to prohibit its judges from considering Islamic law after Gov. Pat McCrory allowed the ban to become law without formally signing a recently passed bill. McCrory, a Republican, called the law “unnecessary,” but declined to veto it. North Carolina joins Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee in banning Shariah from the courtroom. Muslim leaders condemned the new law. “These bogus attempts to defile Islam have a negative effect on Muslim youth who feel marginalized and discriminated against,” said Khalilah Sabra, executive director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at the Muslim American Foundation in Raleigh, N.C. “It’s being used to intimidate Muslims.” The North Carolina ban is limited to family law; bans in other states are broader, applying to commercial law, contract law and other types of laws.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren is vice president of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.


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