APRIL 16: South Korean coast guard officers try to rescue passengers from the Sewol in the water off the coast south of Seoul, South Korea. Dozens of boats, helicopters, and divers scrambled to rescue more than 470 people, including 325 high-school students on a school trip, after the ferry sank, killing at least four and injuring 14.
For donors itching to contribute to a limitless number of candidates during an election cycle, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered good news: In a 5-4 ruling, the court removed the nine-candidate limit. Opponents decried the easing of campaign finance laws, but the court’s majority noted that donors still may give only $2,600 to each candidate per cycle. A White House spokesman denounced the ruling aboard Air Force One, hours before President Barack Obama headlined a Chicago fundraiser to benefit the Democratic National Committee. Ticket prices: $32,000 per plate.
Pro-life groups confirmed a woman died after undergoing a late-term abortion at the Preterm abortion center in downtown Cleveland. Paramedics rushed Lakisha Wilson, 22, to the hospital after she stopped breathing while at the center in late March. Doctors declared her dead a week later. An online obituary noted Wilson was a member of a local church and “was introduced to the Lord at a young age.” Survivors included a 2-year-old son.
Tech giant Mozilla announced CEO Brendan Eich resigned after gay rights groups lambasted his support for traditional marriage. Eich co-founded the company that created the popular web browser Firefox. But after his March 24 promotion to CEO, gay rights activists decried his $1,000 donation in 2008 to the campaign supporting Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in California. Mozilla executives initially defended Eich’s promotion, but later apologized. Eich resigned on April 3.
Blogger Andrew Sullivan—who is gay—and some other supporters of same-sex marriage opposed the firing: “This is a repugnantly illiberal sentiment. It is also unbelievably stupid for the gay rights movement. … And all of us will come to regret it.” The National Organization for Marriage, meanwhile, called for a consumer boycott of Mozilla, and comments on Mozilla’s Firefox Input feedback forum were overwhelmingly opposed to the firing.
Fort Hood sorrow
Less than five years after the Fort Hood army post in Killeen, Texas, suffered the deadliest attack ever on a domestic military installation, violence erupted again: Spc. Ivan Lopez, 34, opened fire at the base, killing three soldiers and injuring 16, before taking his own life. Investigators noted Lopez began shooting after a dispute regarding his request for leave. One the victims, Sgt. First Class Daniel Ferguson, 39, suffered a fatal wound while blocking the gunman’s entrance to a room full of soldiers.
South Sudan sanctions
President Barack Obama signed an executive order threatening sanctions against anyone who commits or stokes civil war in South Sudan. The order comes four months after fighting erupted between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar. Since December, thousands have died in the conflict, while 800,000 have fled their homes, and another 250,000 have fled the country. Opposing leaders offered the same reaction to the threat of U.S. sanctions: Each side said it wasn’t worried because it wasn’t responsible for the war.
A life laid down
An unidentified assailant in Syria shot and killed 75-year-old Dutch Jesuit priest Frans van der Lugt, as Syria’s violence continued to spiral, and Christians continued to face danger. The priest had lived in Syria for decades, and remained in the rebel-held Old City of Homs after a truce allowed more than 1,500 civilians and fighters to evacuate in January. Lugt told a relief agency at the time that he was the only priest left in the area to help suffering residents: “How can I leave?” he asked. “It is impossible.”
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of a Christian wedding photographer who faced fines after refusing to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony in 2007. New Mexico photographer Elaine Huguenin said participating in the event would violate her Christian beliefs in the biblical definition of marriage. A lower court ruled her actions were discriminatory. Justice Richard Bosson concurred with the majority opinion in the state’s Supreme Court, but said the law compels Huguenin and her husband to “compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”
The University of Connecticut celebrated a double victory, as its men’s and women’s basketball teams won the NCAA basketball championships. A 60-54 victory over the University of Kentucky was especially notable for the men, coming a year after the team faced a postseason ban over academic woes.
President Barack Obama and other Democrats continued to trumpet the 7 million Americans who have signed up for healthcare insurance through the federal exchange. But other numbers reveal a fuller picture: As many as 20 percent of enrollees haven’t paid yet, and it’s unclear how many enrollees signed up for coverage after their insurance companies canceled plans that didn’t comply with Obamacare standards. By the end of last year, the Associated Press reported insurance companies had canceled nearly 5 million plans.
The news agency Foreign Policy released a fascinating glimpse into what Chinese citizens are searching for on the internet. The short answer: more Christianity, less Communism. The compilation of information from Weibo, China’s primary social media platform, showed far more mentions of God than Chairman Mao, and more mentions of Jesus than President Xi Jinping. The term “Christian congregation” garnered 41.8 million hits, while “Communist Party” registered 5.3 million.
Major tech firms urged members of the public to change their passwords on sensitive internet sites—like email, banking, and file storage—after revelations that an encryption flaw could have left a half million websites vulnerable to cyber attack over the last two years. Major internet companies like Yahoo and Amazon scrambled to update their networks to guard against the security flaw, but many tech experts said the best safeguard for internet users is to change their passwords now.
The Obama administration announced it would deny a visa to Iran’s choice for the country’s next ambassador to the United Nations. The reason: Hamid Aboutalebi served as a translator for the Iranian mob that stormed the American embassy in Tehran in 1979. Iranian officials downplayed Aboutalebi’s ties to the hostage crisis, but U.S. officials said it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to work at the UN mission in New York. During the crisis, Iranians held more than 60 Americans hostage for 444 days.
Six months after Kathleen Sebelius presided over one of the most disastrous rollouts of a government program in modern history, the secretary of Health and Human Services resigned her post. President Obama tapped Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace Sebelius and take over management of Obamacare.
But Republicans said Sebelius’ resignation won’t solve the problems of the massive healthcare program. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., warned that “even though Secretary Sebelius will be gone, every promise the president made about Obamacare—if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; health care costs will be lowered; and if you like your health plan you can keep it—will remain broken.”
A House committee voted to hold in contempt former IRS official Lois Lerner for refusing to testify about the extra scrutiny the IRS gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. In earlier congressional hearings, Lerner had invoked the Fifth Amendment to protect against self-incrimination, but not before declaring her innocence in a written statement. Some House members said when Lerner claimed innocence, she waived her constitutional right not to testify.
Canada’s first Christian law school gained accreditation despite intense criticism from gay rights groups and some members of the legal community. The Law Society of British Columbia voted overwhelmingly to approve accreditation for the new law school at Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley, British Columbia. Opponents argued TWU’s requirement that students abstain from sex outside of heterosexual marriage discriminates against homosexuals, and that the school couldn’t teach the law objectively. No one has ever leveled a discrimination claim against the 52-year-old university.
Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown announced he would run for the U.S. Senate again—this time in New Hampshire. Brown, a Republican, won a special election in Massachusetts in 2010, but lost his seat to Democrat Elizabeth Warren two years later. Brown moved to New Hampshire in December, and joins other politicians who have moved to another state to run for Senate, including Hillary Clinton. At least one statistic could bode well for Brown: At least two-thirds of New Hampshire adults were born in another state.
Indian voters continued streaming to polls in what could become the world’s largest election: India has at least 814 million eligible voters. The elections will progress in stages over five weeks at some 935,000 polling stations. For some Christians, the outcome could hold long-term implications for safety. Many are concerned that widespread wins for the Hindu nationalist party BJP could pose a threat to a minority already suffering: The Evangelical Fellowship of India reported at least 151 attacks on Christians last year—many in states ruled by the BJP.
Hate crimes in Kansas
Authorities say a 73-year-old avowed anti-Semite opened fire at a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kan., killing three people—all Christians. Officials identified the gunman as Frazier Glenn Cross, a white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader. One victim, Terri LaManno, was a 53-year-old Catholic visiting her mother at a nearby retirement complex. The family of the two other victims released a statement identifying them as William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, who was at the center to audition for a local talent show. “We take comfort knowing they are together in heaven,” the family said.
Vision Forum lawsuit
In October of last year, Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum Ministries, admitting to a “lengthy, inappropriate relationship” with an unmarried woman (see “Set Adrift,” April 5).
On April 15, attorneys for the woman filed a complaint in a San Antonio court against Phillips, VFM, and Vision Forum Inc. (VFI)—the for-profit company Phillips owns. The complaint identifies the woman as Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, a former member of Phillips’ church. Torres met the Phillips family as a teenager, and helped in their home and on ministry trips. The complaint alleges Phillips committed “inappropriate, unwanted, and immoral sexual acts” against Torres. The complaint graphically alleges sexual incidents, but not intercourse, and it doesn’t allege sexual contact when Torres was a minor.
In a March statement to WORLD, Phillips’ attorney said he advised his client to decline comment due to pending litigation, and said that Torres’ legal claims “are strictly and generally denied.” The attorney called the claims “false, defamatory, and made with malicious intent, to destroy Doug Phillips, his family, and his ministry.”
You can be gay and Christian, proclaims a book scheduled for release on April 22 by a publishing house known until now for its evangelical worldview—but the book has emerged from a new imprint that could allow the publishing house to avoid alienating its evangelical market.
God and the Gay Christian, by Matthew Vines, is coming out from Convergent Books, a publisher under the same corporate umbrella and leadership as the evangelical WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. Vines is a 24-year-old former Harvard student who attempts to refute biblical passages that declare homosexuality a sin.
WaterBrook Multnomah is the publishing imprint behind bestsellers such as John Piper’s Desiring God and books by evangelical authors David Jeremiah and Kay Arthur. It started as the printing arm of Multnomah Bible College, in Portland, Ore. But Penguin Random House, an international publishing company with financial obligations to its owners, now owns WaterBrook Multnomah.
Steve Cobb is the head of WaterBrook Multnomah, and he is now also the head of Convergent. Cobb told WORLD: “Books will publish in the Convergent imprint that I could not have considered for publication prior to its creation because it would just not have been appropriate for the established audience of Multnomah or WaterBrook.”